If ever there was a time in my life that I wondered if God heard my prayers, those doubts disappeared one summer as God answered the prayers of a 10-year-old boy.
Our middle child was born with enormous compassion for people and animals. At the age of 3, his decided profession was a zoo keeper. We had two dogs that he loved very much. The first one passed, and then a few years later the other passed. Brokenhearted, he asked his dad if we could get another. His dad said, “No.” He asked again, and again, and again, many times over the next several years. Every time, his dad said, “No.” Sometimes his dad would tell him, “When you have a house of your own, you can get a dog.” Every Sunday during prayer request time in his Sunday school class, he would pray for a dog. It got to the point where the Sunday school teacher would look at me when I picked him up from class and say, “Would you just get the kid a dog already?” I would smile and say, “You don’t understand. Dad said, ‘No.’”
One day he had a brilliant idea. Instead of praying that he would get a dog, he began to pray that God would change his dad’s heart. I know this because his Sunday school teacher told me.
That summer, our church was preparing for vacation Bible School. The theme was Avalanche Ranch and they had asked to borrow artificial Christmas trees as decorations. Willingly, I donated our tree but kept forgetting to take the box out of the back of our van. We drove to vacation Bible school each evening, and I would say to myself, “Don’t forget to get that box out when we get back home”, and then I would forget until the next evening when I saw it again. This went on every evening from Monday until Thursday evening.
On Thursday evening, we took the same route home that we had taken every other evening this week. With a little less than a mile to our house, we came upon a commotion on our very busy road. Cars littered the sides of the road, pulled off in a haphazard fashion, and a small crowd of people gathered on the side of the road. Obligingly, I pulled over, too, and began to get out of the car to see what had happened. As I reached the side of the road, a tear-stained teenage boy looked up from his vantage point over-top of a black and white dog laying on the side of the road.
“I don’t even know where he came from!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t mean to hit him. I don’t know what to do. My friends went around to all of these houses to see if the dog belonged to anyone, but he doesn’t. He has a collar on, but no tag on the collar.” Visibly shaken, the young man sat there petting the bleeding canine. My heart broke. Then I remembered the box that I had forgotten to take out of my van all week. Peering down at them, I realized that the dog was larger than I could handle myself. Before thinking it through, I found myself telling this young man that if he could help me pick the dog up, we could put him into the box in my car and I would take him to the vet. After all, I just happened to have a cardboard box in there! Sobbing, he looked at me in wild amazement and said, “You would do that?”
Before I could fully comprehend what had just happened, we were riding down the road with a bleeding dog in the box that used to house my Christmas tree, and I was calling home to say we’d be later than planned. Because he wanted to be zoo-keeper, I told my son that this was “his moment” and he could come and give comfort to the injured dog. Almost immediately, my son began to ask, “Can we keep him? Can we keep him?” I knew I couldn’t make a promise like that because I had no idea how badly injured he was. Our youngest, who was 3 at the time, kept shouting, “I don’t like this dog! He’s bleeding everywhere and he stinks!” I called the local emergency vet service to explain the situation and see if we could bring him in for evaluation. They asked if I was willing to pay for it. “How much could it be?” I thought. “Of course I’m willing to pay for it.”
When we arrived at the emergency vet, we went inside and explained that we didn’t think the dog would be able to walk. The vet tech came outside with a gurney, and we loaded up our newly named, “Lucky”, which we decided was much better than “Angel” or “Dead”. The girls waited in the waiting room while my son and I talked with the vet. They said that he’d have to stay overnight for evaluation. On our way home that evening, I said to the kids (as if we were playing Monopoly and I was telling them to go directly to jail), “Not a word to your father. Go directly to bed. Do not mention anything about a dog. Got it?” Luckily, they obeyed, giving me some additional time to figure out how to break the news to my husband.
The next morning, the vet called me to report that “Lucky” had lived through the night. The X-ray revealed that he has a luxated paw, which they could repair for $2500.00. I had no idea what a “luxated” paw was, so I asked about the risk of not having it fixed. When they said that he might develop arthritis later in life, I decided that was a risk worth taking. We opted to simply cast it and hope for the best.
“Then there’s the screw we found in his stomach,” they said. “Screw??” “Yes, he must have eaten a screw. We can remove it for $4,000.” “$4000? Or… he could poop it out?” “Well, yes, possibly, but it could tear his intestine lining on the way out.”
At this point, I was awestruck. “Listen, my son has been praying for a dog for years. I am pretty sure that God we serve is bigger than the screw in this dog’s stomach, so I’m going to let God work it out.” I didn’t think about it at the time but have since wondered if the people who worked at the vet service thought I was a lunatic. They were probably thinking they needed to call psychiatric services to have a straight-jacket ready for me when I came to pick up the dog. “I cannot return for the dog until this evening after vacation Bible school. Will that be ok?” “Yes, that’s fine. But your bill is adding up by the hour,” they told me at 9 AM. “How much will it be?” “$1800, so far.” “Goodnight,” I thought. Good thing I didn’t elect the additional surgeries.
I called my mother that day to fill her in on the dog’s condition. “You cannot just show up at home with a dog,” she said. Of course, I can. It’s called: beg for forgiveness rather than ask permission. I do it all the time. After all, my son had asked permission for years now, and it hadn’t worked in his favor!
That evening, during vacation Bible school, I mustered up the courage to call my husband. I began the whole story by letting him know of our son’s Sunday school prayers, and slowly recounted the entire tale up through present time. Anxiously, I listened to the silence on the other end of the phone. After what seemed like an eternity of silence, my husband slowly said, “You hit the dog, didn’t you?” Ha. You can’t make this stuff up. “No, I really didn’t.” “You’re bringing the dog home, aren’t you?” “Um. Yes, that’s my plan”. S-i-l-e-n-c-e, followed by a long sigh. “Ok, then, I’ll see you in a little while,” I said cheerily and then promptly hung up. That evening, we went to pick the dog up while the girls went with my mom to buy dog food and leashes. Poor Lucky had an enormous cone on his head, and his paw was bandaged in a small blue cast. He stunk to high heaven… I mean… STUNK.
Still a little unsure how my husband would respond, I led Lucky into our house and toward our bedroom to meet him. As I entered the house, my daughters’ friend exclaimed, “Hey, I know that dog! Call my dad! He knows who owns him!” Briefly, Lucky and I entered the bedroom, walked over to my husband to say our Hello’s, and then right back out to the garage. When I called to find out more about the dog, Glenn told me empathetically that the dog was better off with us.
That weekend, we left word at the police station and local veterinarians that we had found a dog and posted information on Facebook, and various other places. Had someone actively been looking for the dog, we left plenty of avenues for them to have found us.
A few days passed. One afternoon, while visiting with Lucky in our garage, my husband stopped. He bent down and petted his head, making a remark about what a sorry sight he was. “You know, don’t you, that we don’t know whether or not he’s had shots, so we’re going to have to get him vaccinated. If someone claims him, they’ll have to reimburse us for the vaccination.” All of a sudden, a light bulb went of over-top of my husbands’ head – you know, just like in the movies! “How much have you spent on this dog?” he asked. Uh-oh. “This is the end of the line,” I thought. “Uh. You don’t have to worry about it,” I said. “Um. Yes. I do.” When I told him what the bill was, I thought he’d fall over. He exclaimed, “No one is EVER going to reimburse us THAT amount of money!” After a brief pause, he said, “Well, looks like we better buy a pooper scooper.”
A few days later, we took Lucky to the vet to be vaccinated. In a follow-up x-ray, they confirmed no presence of a screw in his stomach, and no damage to his internals. Six weeks later, his cast and cone came off, and Lucky became a permanent fixture in our home. Don’t tell, but I have often busted my husband cuddling Lucky when he thinks no one is watching. 😉
To be sure, we could have found a cheaper dog at the pound; but the story we can tell about Lucky is far more priceless than that. For me, Lucky represents I John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” Many of us would look at a prayer from a young boy as insignificant, but God didn’t. Because I knew that God cared enough about a 10 year old boy to answer his prayer, I knew that I could trust God with prayers both big and small. Lucky will forever be a part of my own personal journey toward a deeper faith in a God that loves us enough to answer the prayer of a 10 year old boy. Today, that boy is a freshman in college studying youth ministry, thanks, in part, to this answered prayer.
If you doubt that God hears your individual and specific prayers, think again. He loves each and every one of us, and is waiting to hear from us so that He may pour His blessings out on us.
I would love to hear how God has answered prayer in your life. Please feel free to contact me through comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org.