Posted by: pmarkrobb | May 21, 2012

a girl, a dog and a Shepherd

It was a lazy Saturday morning, and I decided to interrupt it briefly with a bit of yard work.  As I pushed the spreader filled with fertilizer out to the front yard,  I saw a young girl standing on the sidewalk several houses down from us.  She appeared panicked, turning at once towards me and then back to her house and then repeated the process several more times.  A couple of seconds later, I began to fill in the blanks of the story behind her demeanor.  A medium-sized Alaskan husky came bounding toward our house, jumping in and out of the front beds of the four neighbors that separated us.  Stopping for a minute to sniff around, and then darting in and out, away from the young girl as she began to chase after it.  She called out in a nervous voice, but her dog never even once looked back.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I suffer from a mild fear of dogs.  I think it sources from childhood and the “killer” dog that lived down the street from us.  I could never corroborate the stories, but this dog was rumored to have gotten loose several times and eaten children whole.  Neighborhood urban legend, I think not!  To be more specific, my fear is really of loose dogs running up to me, and this girl’s dog was heading my way at a full sprint.  I froze, and tried at the same time to maintain some sense of “I am an adult” in front of the approaching young girl.

She continued to call out her dog’s name (which I honestly cannot remember because of the crippling fear), and kept a safe distance.  This ratcheted my fear, since I had quickly concluded that there must be some reason this girl was not in a full sprint after her dog.  The dog passed me, circled a bit, and then darted away, never getting very close.  The young girl stopped near me and nearly began to cry.  In the amount of time it took me to ask her name, her dog had taken off again on a full sprint, reached the end of our block three houses down, turned the corner and disappeared.  It happened that fast.

I tried to reassure the young girl that her dog knew where she lived, and would surely be back soon.  The young girl was not convinced, and explained that her dog was a runaway dog, and that her dog really didn’t know her home because they had not lived there long.  At this point, I looked back toward her house and realized that it is the home that constantly turns over with new renters.  The one with the white covered trailer parked in the drive … I see her reason to be panicked.

In addition to the genuine heart that I had for the young girl and her sadness, I found another motivation in my attempt to reassure her.  It was not so obvious at the time, but it’s as plain as day now.  In reassuring the young girl, I was trying to convince myself that it was OK not to go chasing after her dog.  It was alright, she would come home on her own.

The young girl’s response was a curve ball in an otherwise perfect scenario.  That scenario?  I comfort the young girl when she needs a kind and reassuring word, her dog returns home unharmed and jumps into her arms, cut to commercial.  But instead, the young girl continued to look at me.  Maybe wondering if I had anything else better to say, or wondering when exactly I was going to offer to go looking for her dog.  I asked if her parents knew the dog had gotten loose, and she said they did.  She gave me one last sad look, and then turned and walked back home.  In that last look, I saw a young girl convinced that her dog was never coming back.

I turned initially to walk back and start fertilizing, and then stopped.  I decided in that moment that I needed to work past my fears and respond to this little girl’s need.  Having no plan as to what I would do if I found her, I began walking.  I stopped at the corner and looked … no sight of her.  I kept walking, not knowing how far I would go in search of this dog.  About halfway to the next block, I saw the dog dart from behind a tree.  I began to walk towards her, called for her, and she stopped dead in her tracks and looked up at me.  I called out again, “c’mon girl, let’s go home.”  She began to sprint towards me, and then stopped cold.  I repeated, and she continued in my direction again.  She sprinted past me to the corner.  It looked for a minute that she was going to continue straight, and not make a left and return home.  But just out into the crosswalk she took a hard left and continued sprinting.  She ran straight home, bounded into the mom’s arms, and then directly over to the girl.  I guess we can go to that commercial now.

I don’t share this story for the purpose of creating a Hallmark Hall of Fame moment.  And certainly not to solicit an “Awww, Mark is so kind.  Look how he helped reunite that girl and her dog!”  I share this story because it’s a perfect illustration of how poorly I imitate Jesus.

God blessed me with an amazing reminder this morning, of just how poor and inadequate a shepherd I am, and how perfect a shepherd his Son is.  I am so thankful that Jesus never hesitated on his way to the cross.   Never stopped at a reassuring word in place of a sacrificial act.  Never allows fear to deter him for even a single breath in pursuing me, and other lost sheep like me.

I am eternally thankful … to the young girl, her dog, and the Good Shepherd.


  1. Oh my sweet flora, your girl is so precious and biuetufal!! Happy birthday sweet K!! We are both born on the same month and that is soo cool! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!

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