His name was Chili. I saw him one day, long before
he got that name. He was living in a caged run, at a
no-kill animal shelter in Texas. One of the shelter workers was lifting a medium to large, dirty, natty-haired, floppy-
eared pooch of indeterminate heritage. I was a dog-
walking volunteer, and wondered why the man had to lift
the scruffy pooch up, to take him out of the run.
"What's wrong with him?" I stood by, dangling a
ready leash to walk a smaller, cuter dog. "Oh, this
is Harry. Harry's got a bad hip and leg. He can walk
okay, but he's got trouble getting out of the runs."
A sudden lump clogged my throat. "How long has
he been here?"
"Let's see." The man looked at a little card taped
to Harry's cage door. "It says here about five years.
He's a real sweetie, but you know how it is. Nobody
wants an older dog with a lame leg."
Some months later, after a joyous adoption and a tumultuous move, Chili was living in a big house
Chili loved the snow, and the mischievous squirrels
that scampered about the big, hilly yard. He'd run,
lopping about on three good legs, toward the little, furry
robbers in the snow, and bark happily. I'd tease him.
"Chili! Stop being mean to the squirrels!" Then, he'd
turn his frosty head, and lope back toward my laughing
voice. He'd stand in front of me, snowy flakes sticking
to his big, black nose, and dance uncomfortably on three
good paws. I'd kneel down, and give him a big, soft
hug. "Silly Chili!"
I can still feel his hot, damp breath on my wet cheek.
Years have passed now. One day, whimpering in pain
from a cancerous lump, my scruffy Heinz 57 had to be
put to sleep.
But, silly Chili had ten very fine years as a beloved
pooch. I gave him a home, and in return, he gave me
probably the most perfect love I ever had.
In my daily struggle to become a follower of Jesus,
I've heard about the wedding banquet feast of Heaven.
I've always pondered, "Why would I want to sit with a
bunch of folks I don't know, eating dinner at a big,
That wouldn't be my idea of Heaven at all. No.
I have another feast in mind. It takes place beside a
cool, rippling stream under a shady maple. No one is
there, except me and Chili. I'm holding a paper plate of
hot dogs, and French fries. Chili is lying on the soft
grass, and his clumsy paws are grasping a half-chewed
hot dog. I'm leaning against the tree, dipping a French
fry into a mound of ketchup. I'm not sure if its Heinz or not.
Across the stream, sitting on the edge of the grassy
bank, is Jesus.
Suddenly, a chattering squirrel enters our sunny world.
I don't pay much attention. But Chili, alerted to a
familiar sound, stops eating. He growls softly.
Then, standing firmly on four muscular legs, he
barks loudly, and bounds away.
"Chili, come here! Bad boy!" My mouth is full of
ketchup and fries.
Jesus looks up from His book, and smiles.
Reference: Matthew 25:1-14.
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