We talk about how God is love and how he is merciful. One day this week he showed me his kindness amid fear and heartbreak.
I woke up Tuesday morning already knowing my wife, Laura, was having car trouble. The night before, she had stopped halfway home from a trip because of the weather, but she also noticed, just as she reached her hotel, that her oil light quickly blinked on and off.
Knowing that meant she had an oil leak, I told her to see if she could get it looked at first thing in the morning. Turns out, there was an oil change place right across the street. I feared it might cost a lot to fix, but hoped it would at least be doable quickly and wouldn’t leave her stranded away from home for another day.
Tuesday morning, she called and said she was taking the car to the oil change place, and I headed out to run some errands. A few minutes later, I said goodbye to our 13-year-old beagle Molly and started out the driveway. Just then, Laura called, laughing, as she sometimes does when she’s nervous.
“You’re never going to believe this,” she said.
I mentally prepared myself.
“A rock was stuck in the oil filter. They replaced the filter, filled the car up with oil and wouldn’t let me pay.”
The man running the place told her to just come back and give them business. But, she explained, she was traveling, and didn’t live there.
“That’s OK,” he said. “Just use one of our locations where you live.”
That man had been kind to her, but so had God:
You see, before she had left on her trip Monday, she decided to make a hotel reservation at that town because a storm with possible tornadoes was coming through where we live and she didn’t want to drive through it — especially that late at night. And the oil level stayed high enough just long enough to get her to her hotel. If not for the storm she would have driven all the way home and likely would have ended up ruining the engine.
But she made it home safely about midday and was able to take a nap and catch up on her rest. When she woke up she said she had dreamed someone close had told her they were going to die, but she wondered who it might be.
Tuesday was a busy day for me at work. I’m an editor at a political news website, so the midterm elections had me working far later than normal.
I had to vote and run several errands before starting my shift, and when I got home I had to give Molly a dose of medicine because her arthritis had been acting up very badly over the past two days.
Election coverage is always stressful, and, as expected, several of the races went late into the night. I finally got off just three minutes till midnight.
Molly was overdue for another dose of her medicine by just about half an hour, so I quickly went to kitchen to put it in some bread and peanut butter so she’d eat it.
“Molly, want a treat?” I told her, lying, of course about the medicine hidden inside.
Often, she was slow to hop up for a treat this late, but still would rouse herself up. This time she didn’t.
“Molly!” I said again. “Here’s your treat.”
She seemed to move her head a little, but not much, which worried me.
I began to say her name again, and she exhaled loudly, which gave me hope, but when I lifted her head it was limp. She exhaled again.
I must have been saying her name over and over, because Laura came in from the bedroom asking what was wrong.
“I think she’s dying,” I said.
She told me to feel for a heartbeat.
Molly’s heart was racing and her body was very warm. Then the beating stopped.
She died right there.
I assumed she had been holding on, waiting for me to come to her, knowing I always took her outside one last time before I went to bed. But when I described the incident to our vet, she said it didn’t sound like a heart attack or stroke, but more like an embolism, and that it would have happened right then whether I had been there or not.
So God was more merciful to me — and to Molly — than I even had thought.
I got her when she was just 3 months old and we’d been together for 13 full years. He allowed us to be together with me saying her name to her as she left.
Jesus said that God even knows about the sparrow when it falls, and he cares immensely more about we humans whom he created as his imagers on his earth. He showed me this week how he’s truly a kind God to me, my wife, my dog and everyone else I love and care about.
And that makes me want to be that much kinder to everyone else.