S-0-S: Can Anyone Hear Me?
By NANCY PATRICK
Fellow writer Danny Minton wrote a recent article about how people sometimes feel alone and abandoned by God. When this happens to us, we often ask, “God, where are you?” Of course, we learn by going through the crisis that God remains present the entire time. Unfortunately, our human limitations can blind us to the reality of God’s presence whether we can see it or not.
I recently had a unique experience. As I walked down my street for my daily exercise, I heard a dog’s barking as I passed a particular house. I took several steps and heard the barks again, but when I looked around for the dog, I didn’t see one. I turned back around and retraced my steps to better hear the barks. Again, I heard the barks, but they had a strange, hollow sound.
I couldn’t see a dog in any yard, but I saw a thick bush at the curb and wondered if the bush’s lower limbs had somehow snagged the small dog. As I neared the bush, the bark came again, but I could tell it came from below me. Imagine my surprise when I looked down into one of the street drainage tunnels and saw below the heavy grill a little Jack Russell terrier, barking and shaking so badly he could barely stand.
I began talking to the little fellow to reassure him that I would somehow get him out of there. I rang several door bells, hoping to find assistance, but no one answered the bell. I went back and got down on the pavement to see if I could reach him.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my arms low enough to reach the dog’s body, and I knew the little fellow in the drain was terrified and most likely suffering from hypothermia. I began looking for assistance in the neighborhood. Thankfully, I found a wonderful man, Scott Gidley, who supervised a crew of roofers. He immediately joined me as we rushed to the dog’s rescue.
On his stomach, Scott stretched his arms far enough into the drainage opening to grab the dog. He pulled the soaked little creature out of the drain and handed him over to me. I held him tightly to my chest like a baby as he continued to shake, cry, and bark.
I cooed and talked baby talk to the little dog as Scott and I walked quickly to my house where Scott discovered tags with contact information. Thank goodness! Scott called the number and asked the man who answered the phone if he was missing a brown and white Jack Russell terrier, as the dog began barking again. The owner became excited as he heard his pet’s “voice” on our end of the line.
When we reached my backyard, my husband provided towels for me to dry and warm the dog as I continued to hold him close so he could feel me and hear my voice. Within half an hour, the owner’s wife arrived to claim her fur baby whose name was Fred. He was eighteen-years-old, blinded by cataracts and almost deaf. I prayed for Fred’s recovery, but sadly, he died that night.
I couldn’t help but compare Fred’s experience with what some of us go through in our own walks through life. How many times have I slipped into a drainage ditch of my own? Feeling alone, misunderstood, afraid, and depressed, I wondered where God was. Had he forgotten his promises to meet my needs? Did he even know or care about my situation?
Not only did I feel sorry for myself and angry at God, but I also had cataracts on my spiritual eyes. I had lost sight of God, I had lost my faith and confidence in Him, and I struggled against His hands that reached through the grill of my drainage ditch to lift me from my pit.
I will always remember one of those spiritual droughts that occurred during my husband’s first pastorate in the mid-seventies. At our church in Illinois, far from my support system in Texas, I felt desperate as I dealt with a new baby plagued by upper respiratory infections.
At the end of my spiritual rope, I blamed God for making my baby sick. I “accused” Him of punishing me for my own past sins. Scared, depressed, and not knowing how to get through these issues, one night out of the blue, my brain brought forth the scripture in Luke 11: 11-13: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
The moment I read the passage, I felt like Fred did when he came out of the cold drainage ditch and clung to my warm chest. I let my rescuer, God, hold me close as I listened to his words and claimed his promises even though I could not see through the cataracts that clouded my vision. Steadfast faith is a goal, but all human beings go through times when their faith wavers, when they tremble with fear and doubt. Fred illustrates the lesson of persistence as we wait for God to hear our cries and stretch His arms to pull us to his protecting embrace.
Nancy Patrick is a retired teacher who lives in Abilene and enjoys writing