The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)
When the 11-year-old Chihuahua was dropped off at the crowded animal shelter, she had obvious health problems. Two weeks went by and no one showed interest in adopting her. After all, who’d want an old dog with health issues? So Sadie was scheduled for euthanasia.
Enter one young lady with a heart for the hurting—and with a passion for God’s creatures. When Sarah McKenrick and her fiancé, Jonathan Cherry, visited the shelter, “to give some animals some love,” a volunteer told them the sad story of the Chihuahua.
“She had been with a family for 11 years,” Sarah told me, “and they just dumped her at the shelter. My heart broke, and I couldn’t let her be put down like that. We adopted her.”
While the veterinarian was spaying Sadie, he discovered still another health problem and called Sarah.
“Are you sure you still want to adopt her?” he asked.
“Absolutely!” Sarah said.
With a heart murmur, congestive heart failure, fluid in her lungs, a bad stomach due to hookworms, and “a long list of other issues,” Sadie was given three months to live—“a hospice situation,” Sarah said. “She was 3.25 pounds and terrified.”
That was three years ago.
“Today she is on ZERO medication, the heart murmur is gone, and she’s a chunky 6 pounds!” reports Sarah, who is now Mrs. Jonathan Cherry.
That’s what love can do.
In Sarah’s and Jonathan’s love for Sadie, who now responds to the name “Bitty,” I see God’s love for all humanity. God’s love for me. God’s love for you. Each one of you.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what your nationality is, what your beliefs are, what you do for a living, or how old you are. It doesn’t matter that you have “SIN” written all over you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve messed up. Or if you are messed up.
It doesn’t matter if you’re what the world calls “damaged goods.” It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, who’ve you’ve been with, where you are.
Read the Gospels. Over and over you’ll see God’s Son reaching out to the outcasts of society.
The woman at a well in Samaria (John 4:1–26) had three strikes against her: She was a woman—women were not at the top of the social ladder in those days; she was a Samaritan—the Jews hated the Samaritans; and she’d had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband.
But she wasn’t out—not by God’s standards.
Neither are you.
Then there was the leper who asked Jesus for healing and Jesus touched him (Matthew 8:1–4; Luke 5:12–14). He touched him! My goodness, you didn’t even breathe the same air as a leper in those times, let alone touch one.
But in God’s eyes he wasn’t untouchable.
Neither are you.
But he wasn’t despised by God.
Neither are you.
You may know Levi better by his name as one of Jesus’ disciples—Matthew, which means “gift of the LORD.”
That’s what happens when Jesus comes into your life—it changes, you change—transformed from the inside out. It all starts with the unconditional love of God.
Sadie’s story, you see, is your story.
When I’m feeling down on myself, O Lord, remind me of how very much You love me. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on Romans 8:31–39
Many thanks to Jonathan and Sarah Cherry for giving me permission to share their story and use their photographs.