On lost dogs and finding purpose
One brisk Tuesday morning, at one of the many bus stops throughout Canberra, our attention was drawn to a cute dog waiting with us. It wore an NCIS shirt. “If a dog is a member of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service,” I joked to my wife, “don’t mess with it.”
We looked around and the two people waiting at the bus stop with us didn’t appear to be its owner. We were perplexed. About half a minute later, up walked another two ladies, one of whom noticed the friendly little pooch.
“Oh, you’re adorable,” she said. “Where’s your mum?”
“I think it’s lost,” I replied.
“Well, we can’t have that,” she said, scooping up the dog to look at its collar to see if its owner’s mobile phone was printed on a tag. It was. A young man took out his mobile phone and dialed the number. It wasn’t reachable.
We knew the bus would be here soon, but none of us felt comfortable about leaving the dog alone at the bus stop.
“Look,” said the lady who picked up the dog, “I can’t miss the bus. Can anyone of you wait until the owner shows up?”
“Do you want to bring it to the vet?” my wife asked me.
“I don’t know where it is,” I replied.
A few seconds later, the lady said, “Oh wait, I know, I’ll bring it there,” signaling a motel a few hundred feet away.
“I’ll keep the bus for you,” said the other lady with her.
“I’ll keep calling the owner,” said the young man.
So she took the dog over to the nearby motel, while we anxiously waited for the bus. When we saw it around the corner, the lady who rescued the pooch came running out of the motel, and made it just in time.
“The owner picked up,” she said breathlessly to me as we sat down. “She’s on her way.”
“You’re a hero,” I smiled.
“No, I’m not,” she laughed. “But I thought to myself, ‘if my cat were in a similar situation, I would want someone to show that kind of compassion to us as well.’”
Just this week, I have watched a woman offer to buy coffee to settle down a rowdy man on the bus and seen a public school teacher give a student bus money when she lost her bus pass; and had conversations with volunteers of programs that help the indigent. Some would call them Good Samaritans; I looked at them and it is irrelevant to me whether or not they actually happen to know Christ. I saw Jesus in them.
What she said reminded me of what Pastor Neli shared with us at Every Nation Canberra last June 30, when he reminded us that God puts us in certain situations and places for a purpose.
“This is your city,” he said to us. “However long you are here, God has called you to be faithful in this city. Christ is the Good Samaritan, and the church is the inn.”
If we understand our calling as innkeepers, we know our purpose: to provide people refuge and, ultimately, be used by Christ to be a blessing. Sometimes it may be inconvenient for Christians to help; other times, during times of crisis, for example, it could be downright dirty. But the Holy Spirit can use us to minister to people with joy.
There is no shortage of opportunities to be a blessing. Everywhere we go, God presents us with chances to be used for His glory, presents needs that we can fill, and He introduces us to new people who may just experience God’s love through us, if we courageously take a chance.
This is our purpose: to be faithful in this city. Let’s go and be a blessing.
Ganns Deen is a research assistant at the Australian National University. He is married to Caths and has two children, Nathan and Nicki.