His name is The Roc. He’s a tough old miniature pinscher, though, and he didn’t lose his toe through any fault of his own.
I adopted him a few years ago. For as long as I’ve had him, his toe has given him problems, but never anything major. Eventually, an infection popped up and our vet thought it would be a good idea to remove the toe.
What started out as a simple surgery turned into a maelstrom of issues. The Roc has always had a couple of quirks about him: the weird toe, a tiny cyst above his eye, a hacking cough. Nothing big, just the effects of old age. So, when he went in for surgery, the doctor took care of a few nagging problems in one sweep.
During the surgery, the vet also noticed a questionable cyst in his mouth and decided to snip it as well.
Here’s where the trouble began. The Roc bled out of his mouth all over my carpet for two days straight. Then came the incessant pawing at the scar on his eye, necessitating the dreaded “cone of shame.” Finally, he somehow managed to scrape the left side of his torso.
He ended up having to wear a baby T-shirt for weeks to protect the medicine needed for the cut to heal.
Every day for a month or so was a new adventure in trying to care for The Roc. If you don’t have a dog you’re probably shaking your head at this point: Why would I go through all this trouble for my dog? He’s just an animal. He can’t grasp what I’m doing for him. He can’t thank me. What’s the point?
Why would I take care of a dog with a missing toe? Because I love him. And because he can’t take care of himself.
Those same two reasons are why God constantly takes care of us: Because he loves us. And because we can’t take care of ourselves.
You might ask why God bothers with humans. Why would he send a precious and innocent son to die in our place? Why would God rescue us?
It all sounds illogical. But the answer is in God’s role as our Father.
God is a Heavenly Father. We are his children. God saw his children ensnared by sin. He saw we could not rescue ourselves from this deadly trap.
Just as no good pet owner wants to be separated from his animal, no good father wants to be separated from his child.
God could not stand the thought of being separated from his children. So he did what any good father would do: He took care of us.
The difference between humans and dogs is that dogs will never understand why we love them so much. My dog will never grasp why I, his earthly father, keep sacrificing for him.
A human’s brain works differently. We can make sense of how incredible our Heavenly Father’s love is. We can be humbled by his grace. We can choose to stop taking advantage of our Father and instead give our lives to him.
The next time you’re missing a toe, or need to be taken care of, you have a choice. You can accept God’s grace and go right back to what you were doing without even a word of gratitude, or you can be transformed by the love of a Father.
ALEX DORIOT IS THE DIRECTOR OF STUDENT MINISTRIES AT THE HILL BAPTIST CHURCH IN AUGUSTA.