There was once a puppy on a farm that was outside running and playing. She ran up to the horse and said, “What are you? I’m a puppy,” wagging her tail happily. The horse looked down with disdain and said, “What good are you? I am a horse. The master rides me to town, I pull the plow, and pull the carriage to take the master’s family to church. You do nothing for the master. Do not talk to me.” The horse snorted and turned away. The puppy was deflated for a bit, but puppies rarely stay depressed for long. Soon, she was up and running again and this time came to a cow. “What are you? I’m a puppy,” and her tail wagged happily. The cow looked down and said, “You are nothing. I am a cow. I give milk to feed the family and for the master to sell at the market to buy food. I give the master many things while you give nothing.” The cow turned her back on the puppy and walked away. The puppy’s tail stopped wagging and her head drooped, but not for two long. Pretty soon, she spotted a hen and ran up to her saying, “What are you? I’m a puppy,” and wagged her tail. The her lifted her head high and said, “You are nothing. I am a hen. I give eggs to the master for food for his family, and to have chicks the master can sell at the market. You do nothing for the master, go away.” The hen turned away and this time the puppy walked slowly back up the porch where she laid down in a sunny spot. Later, the master came home and when the puppy saw him, she wagged her tail and jumped up into his arms, licking his face. The master laughed and petted the little dog. “You give me more joy than any animal on this farm. No matter how bad my day has been, you are always happy to see me and give me love. You make me happy when I am sad. You give me the best gift of all, the gift of unconditional love.” The puppy wagged her tail very fast and snuggled into her master’s arms and continued licking him, very, very happy with the gift she was able to give.
Karen has had pneumonia for the last few days. The doctor came to the house but had to take Karen to the hospital for more tests. When Karen came home, she came with a nurse who set up an IV hanging from the ceiling over our bed and taught me how to give the medications and how to turn off the IV when it stopped. She also gave her massive injections of antibiotics. The nurse came back yesterday with more antibiotics and set up a new IV and will return again today for the same. All this time, little Sissie, our Tibetan Terrier was unable to get into Karen’s lap (see picture at the right) which is her favorite place. Finally, last night, she could stand it no more, and even though she has been warned off the bed many times, she jumped up on the bed and snuggled into Karen’s arms tangled in the IV line. We untangled the line and left Sissie where she was as Karen smiled and petted her over and over. Sissie licked the IV spot on Karen’s arms and then licked her face. After about thirty minutes, we were able to get her off the bed and back into the other room. Karen had a big smile on her face and reminded me of the story above that I have used as a children’s sermon many times in my career as a pastor. It never had more meaning than it did last night. Sometimes, we just need to know that we are loved, unconditionally.