Adopted As An Abused Adult Dog, Gra­cie Finds Her Voice

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - CHURCH - Ron Wood Colum­nist RON WOOD IS A WRITER AND MIN­IS­TER. CON­TACT HIM AT WOOD.STONE.RON@ GMAIL.COM OR VISIT WWW. TOUCHEDBYGRACE.ORG. THE OPIN­IONS EX­PRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AU­THOR.

It’s a ter­ri­ble thing when fear makes you lose your voice. But it hap­pened to Gra­cie.

Gra­cie was our beloved pet, an adult dog that we rescued. When we adopted her, she was in very poor health. She needed help. Her markings were pure Jack Rus­sell Ter­rier, a lively breed and a lovely dog. We passed over frisky pup­pies to choose her, be­ing drawn to … what? Some­thing in her eyes?

She had lost half her body weight, down to 6 pounds. The fur on her legs was thin due to mal­nu­tri­tion. Her ears had big scars from dog fights. Her two front ca­nine teeth were miss­ing, likely broken off from gnaw­ing her way out of cap­tiv­ity. The vet who ex­am­ined her com­mented, “What are you do­ing, open­ing a hospice?”

She be­gan to thrive. My wife held her in her lap like a baby, prayed over her, hand-fed her, and ten­derly loved on her the first few weeks. She sur­vived! Eight years later when Gra­cie died, Lana said, “Who rescued who?” Gra­cie had bonded with Lana, not me. Per­haps it was a man who mis­treated her — we’ll never know. She liked me well enough but for my wife, she did an ex­u­ber­ant happy dance when Lana walked in.

The first year that Gra­cie lived in our home, she never barked… not once. If she needed to go out­side, she would silently stand at our feet and stare up or go wait by the door; giv­ing only non­ver­bal clues. But af­ter a year passed… she barked!

Sur­prised, we cel­e­brated that first bark with praise. No scold­ing, no an­gry words. Thus, Gra­cie got her voice back! When I laced up my shoes in the morn­ing, she barked, an­tic­i­pat­ing a walk. To be let out­side, she barked. To wel­come Lana home, she barked. Her voice sounded good to our ears. We knew how long it took. We knew where she had come from even though we could only imag­ine what had caused her long si­lence.

Suf­fer­ing, help­less­ness, and fear can make hu­mans lose their voices, too. Mis­treated chil­dren be­gin to shut down their joy, afraid to feel or speak. Even for adults, silent suf­fer­ing in the face of in­jus­tice or cru­elty is not noble, it’s piti­ful.

Speak up. Ex­press your hopes. Re­buke your fears. You have a voice and you have hu­man rights. Make a dif­fer­ence by speak­ing up for your­self. Like Rosa Parks, you may be paving the way for oth­ers to ex­pe­ri­ence the same de­liv­er­ance.

The bib­li­cal char­ac­ter named Job, while suf­fer­ing ter­ri­ble tri­als, fi­nally said, “I will not re­strain my voice — I will lift up my voice and cry aloud!” God heard him, de­liv­ered him, and vin­di­cated him. It’s good to know that when we’ve ex­hausted our hu­man ap­peals, we can go over the head of what­ever per­son or power is op­press­ing us. We can appeal to the Judge of all the earth, the Lord of glory, who is seated on his throne of mercy.

We have le­gal stand­ing in heaven’s High Court thanks to the grace of Je­sus Christ. We can boldly vent our hon­est frus­tra­tion, our deep­est needs, our des­per­ate hopes, our heart­felt emo­tions ... and he will hear us!

Shake off what­ever muz­zles you. End your self-im­posed si­lence. Call aloud on the Lord with your whole heart. Use your au­then­tic voice. God will lis­ten to you. He will hear and wel­come the sound.

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