My daughter has been asking for years for a dog. I would say something like, “Elizabeth, how’s it going? Is there anything you would like?” And she would answer, “I want a dog!” She answered me that for quite a long time. And I encouraged her to do that, too, based on a certain passage of Scripture, which encourages us to make our petitions known to God and to not hold them back (see Luke 18:1-8). Thus, I never said to Elizabeth, “Don’t ask me for a dog!” So year after year, she would ask me and my wife for a dog. It was something that was on her heart. And I firmly believe that if you entrust yourself to the Lord, and submit to His ways, then what may be on your heart, and on your children’s hearts, may be of God. And you would not want to snuff that out now, would you?
But still, there was the element of timing. While I sensed the Lord saying, “Let her keep on asking,” neither my wife nor I felt it was the right timing. For example, our daughter was very young when she first started asking (around 7), and both my wife and I knew that if we got a dog when she was that age, the dog would really be our dog, and not our daughter’s (in terms of overall responsibility). We did not feel we would have the time necessary to take the dog outside and do all of the “dog” things that need to be done when you get a dog. So we waited. Our answer, for a while, was “No. No dog for now. But one day? Yes. You will be able to get a dog.”
Of course, there was the question of who would pay for the dog. My daughter already made up her mind on that one. “Daddy, I will pay for it.” So for several years, whenever my daughter would receive money from relatives or friends for her birthday or other occasions, she would save it. Slowly, she accumulated around 300 dollars. This girl really was “in the running” to get herself a dog! But have you checked out the price of dogs recently? Ouch! When I was young, my parents bought a purebred beagle for 50 dollars, as I recall. These days, that same dog would run you around 500 to 700 dollars – or more.
Finally, the day of reckoning came. It was the day that the Lord finally released our spirit to be able to say “yes” to our daughter – and that she could, in fact, buy her dog now. The time came shortly after her 11th birthday. And my daughter was so happy. But what dog could be bought for less than $300? Then, on a certain Saturday afternoon, as I was studying some technical stuff, the Lord whispered into my spirit, “Go check for a dog on the internet.” But which dog should I check for? It turns out that that very morning, my wife and I had had an encounter with a man who had brought his dog to our children’s school’s annual walk-a-thon. His dog was a miniature schnauzer, and he said it was “non-shedding”. Ah. Sounded like the right type of dog for us. Plus, it wasn’t too big, say only 15 pounds at full weight. However, he said, he had paid 1200 dollars for it! Well, in faith, I went to my computer and typed in the words, “miniature schnauzer”. Sure enough I found several listings. One listing in particular had been posted the very same day and the price was right! Less than $200!
My daughter was happy when I told her I had found a miniature schnauzer on the internet for this price and agreed to look at it with me. We drove to see the lady, and found out that she had a bad back due to an accident that she suffered from in the workplace years earlier. Well, you know what happened next, don’t you? We talked to her about Jesus and His love for her and how we wanted to pray for her back – and how even though she had a back problem, that God’s promise was that He would work everything out for the better to those who loved Him and were called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). The woman said, “You know, I like breeding dogs better than I ever liked working at my old job as a nurse – which I was forced to give up because of my back problem.” I said to her, “You know, if it wasn’t for your back problem, you would have never gotten into the dog-breeding business. So God has used your back problem to bring a blessing into your life. But now it’s time to get rid of your back problem,” I said to her. And so we prayed. And Elizabeth my daughter left that evening with a “brand new” (9 week old) miniature schnauzer.
God REALLY DOES work “all things together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28). Right? BELIEVE THAT HE DOES AND PROBLEMS THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED IN LIFE CAN BE TURNED TO BLESSINGS! Now let’s go over that one more time, shall we?
For four years, while dad and mom said, “No, you cannot have a dog (yet)”, a little girl who was 7, 8, 9, and 10, learned the valuable lesson of perseverance. How do you really “catch” a lesson like that? You do it by persevering. Elizabeth learned that lesson, and she learned it at a very young age. I believe it will have a life-long impact on her. Another lesson she learned was the importance of planning for the future. She did this by saving her money. By saving her money, she was REALLY exercising her FAITH that ONE DAY, the purchase of a dog would surely come to pass! And come to pass it finally did! Thus, she was learning the lesson of perseverance, planning for the future, and faith. It was dad and mom’s responsibility, at the right time, to say “yes” to having a dog, and say “yes” we did. Had we NOT said “yes” when the Holy Spirit indicated we should, we would have grieved the Holy Spirit, and potentially damaged everything God was teaching our daughter throughout this four year time period. The lessons are not over! We are now learning the lessons of having a dog, and what a joy it is! Elizabeth, on her part, is learning about leadership, as she learns to take care of her new dog. Lessons keep being learned every day. On our part, we continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, so that all of our children can receive and walk in the blessings which God has prepared for them.