He wasn't one in a million; he was one of millions.
“I thought you were going to bring me something to work with. This dog doesn't have much of a future.” With that said, the veterinarian offered to put down the old, ugly black dog.
The subject in question smelled bad; he was missing a paw and most of his teeth. He had been caught in a steel trap at some time in his sad past and most likely chewed the paw free from the trap, breaking his teeth as he did so. He was bony and had heartworm.
Richard Daniels, a retired minister from Waynesboro, shook his head. He saw something else. Jesus loves the underdog. How often did He show it in his few years on earth? The woman at the well, the blind and lame, lepers... Well, here was as close to a leper as he had ever come. This dog was the poster-dog for underdogs, those who aren't expected to win.
Richard and his wife, Sue, had captured this stray after many failed attempts. He roamed a campground where they visited, living off of handouts, keeping his distance. The easiest choice was the one made by all others who had seen the dog over the years, leave him some food scraps and go home and forget about him. But, they couldn't.
Richard had noticed that when he asked his dog, Levi, to sit, the old black dog sat. When he told Levi to lie down, the old dog obeyed as well. There had been a time when this old stray had been someone's pet; he'd loved and been loved. What tragedy had happened that he found himself in these circumstances?
Weeks went by as the veterinarian pulled out all stops, at Richard's expense, to give the dog a fighting chance to survive. Richard visited him daily and watched as he grew stronger. His coat became shiny and he gained weight. His eyes, once dull, became bright and friendly. He responded to the love and care so much more than anyone expected. The dog turned out to be a most remarkable animal, dignified and grateful. Richard named him Ol'Fella and the bond grew between the two; they became best friends.
Ol'Fella went home to live with Richard and Sue. They shared his story with campers the world over who stayed tuned in to the website for updates. Fans, touched by the story, adopted strays. Thousands of animals have been saved from miserable lives because one man chose to make a difference. He weighed the cost and did it anyway.
Today there stands a statue of Ol'Fella at Burke County Animal Rescue where generous donations afford unwanted animals a better life.
Richard would tell you he was the one who was changed forever on that day when he decided “I'm it”. He was the someone who could make a difference. He never asked,“Why me?”
How many blessings are we missing? Who is our neighbor?
C compassion- selfless, concerned, kind, caring, merciful
H halt- stop and help, pull the reins, pause, stand still
R ready- prepared, available, oil in lantern, armor on
I invest- redeem, give time and resources, accept risk
S sacrifice- serve, weigh the cost, do it anyway
T tenacity- persevere, hold on, steadfast, resolute
I immediate- instantly obey, intervene now, step up
A accounting- no balance sheet, no settling, no inventory
N note- remember, acknowledge God at work, sweet memories
The choices we make matter. Everything we do matters. This is called the ripple effect . Just as dropping an object into water creates ever-expanding ripples, our choices make an impact.
Selfless concern for the welfare of others often increases the recipient and decreases the giver. Be a giver anyway.
Richard Daniels made a choice to see the worth in the unloved, the unwanted. A random act of kindness cost him time and money. He had to step up and be the one; he was greatly inconvenienced. Oh, but he was blessed.
Heavenly Father, give us the courage to be the one who says—I will, I'll do it. Help us to see others as You see them. Help us to know how much each choice we make matters. Thank You for the example of the utmost selfless love, the gift of Your One and Only Son, Jesus. Amen.
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