Years ago, our family adopted a blind and mostly deaf dog named Braille. He was abandoned, thrown onto someone’s lawn like trash. I first saw Braille when he was shown on the 5 o’clock news. He had been nursed back to health at a rescue shelter and they were looking for someone to adopt him. Through a series of events, this little dog came to live with us.
On the drive home, we began considering what we had gotten ourselves into. I was holding Braille on my lap like a prize I had just won. But my husband reminded me what that prize actually was—a dog who could not see or hear. He asked a series of practical questions: How do you teach anything to a blind and deaf dog? How does he learn to “sit” or “come”? Become housebroken? All rational questions we should have asked before we agreed to take him, yet here we were with little Braille nonetheless.
It did not take long for those concerns to be forgotten. We were enchanted by Braille. He was affectionate, friendly, and happy. His sense of smell was phenomenal. He would catch our scent within minutes of our getting home. We played with him by hiding in closets and bathtubs. He would always find us. With his nose straight up in the air, he would track us down with excitement. Despite his limitations, Braille knew us. He knew our scent and could tell us apart. He relied on touch to know where we were or when we were on the move. If we sat on the couch, he was in our lap. If we were eating at the table, he would lie by our feet. If we lay down, he would stretch out and lean against us. He kept us near.
His weaknesses and disabilities were not annoying or off-putting. Rather, they were endearing. I loved him and wanted to protect him. I became his seeing-eye-human and felt so much compassion for him. Even so, sometimes I failed Braille. I’d become distracted on a walk and forget to navigate him around a telephone pole or a hole in the ground. But he did not hold these mishaps against me. He utterly trusted me to lead him, to care for him.
This fact became a teaching moment for me. I realized how much I was like Braille spiritually— deaf and blind, incapable of finding my own way. But unlike Braille, I was not relying on the Lord to lead me, even though he has perfect navigation and sees what I cannot. It’s not that I thought God wasn’t trustworthy. I just figured he wasn’t all that interested in me because I am so flawed. But I realized that if God cared enough about a broken little animal to find it a home that loved and cherished him, how much more must he care for us? For me? For you? Braille became a small window into how much my Creator cherishes his people—weak, needy human beings. God is not repulsed by our weaknesses; his strength is made perfect in them. So we do not need to have our act together before we come to him. He already knows our frailties—and he still invites us to come. Rather than limiting us from being loved and cared for, our failings give us more reason to need him and rely on him more eagerly. God delights in this. He wants us to draw near. We may be needy and broken, but we are also greatly loved.
Isn’t it interesting that God uses the broken things of this world to teach us about him? He does this often in Scripture. He uses that which most of us would overlook and discard to accomplish his purposes. God used my love for Braille to show me how much he loves me. He was reminding me that he is the God who sees and the one who will guide me when I am blind and uncertain. Unbeknownst to me, he was also preparing me for an unexpected challenge in my family. I’ll share more about that challenge in my next blog.