"He was rescued from a shelter," we proudly respond.  Our normal comment about this beloved, furry creature who has stolen our hearts.  Chip's fluffy, waggling tail and smiling brown eyes welcome passersby as we take our exercise to the neighborhood streets.  His caramel coat and white facial mask accentuate the sparkling eyes that invite, "Come play with me, stroke my fur, see how gentle I am."  He sits politely, in anticipation.

However, it wasn't always that way.  That first month after we had adopted the rascal, I revisited our initial decision numerous times.  The serene demeanor we had seen at the shelter was jarred by his independent streak that tore through our home each evening.  Lamps teetered as he skipped over cords behind sofas.  Stuffed animals were snatched as trophies from our children's beds. Country decor bore the imprint of his teeth. 

I called the shelter at least four times.  How does one go about returning a dog?  An alpha dog!  There was a price to pay for that!  Or we could hire a trainer, they suggested.

More money, either way.  We'd try the trainer.  With leash in hand, the wise handler walked Chip outside.   Eager to explore, our puppy strained to romp down the road ahead of the trainer. A sharp, "Heel", and a quick tug on the leash.  Chip was whirling in the opposite direction under his trainer's authority.  Two more times and Chip was attending.  He sat when the trainer stopped.

Like Chip, I've been rescued, too.  Our Heavenly Father gazed lovingly upon this creation of His.  More than a rascal.  Deceit, pride, independence, rebellion.  Sin, in all its forms, darkened my heart.  But He adopted me just the way I was!  Like  we adopted Chip.

Our Father had already paid the price.  The blood of his Son, Jesus flowed over me and washes away my sin.  The Holy Spirit was hired to be my trainer. 

The bit and bridle have been placed upon me (Psalm 32: 9  NIV) with love, more times than I'd like to count. I'm still in process.  Fortunately, our Father, unlike me, never desires to return me--or any of us--to the life we once led.  With open hands, He reaches out to forgive me, pick me up, and give me the grace to be transformed into His likeness.

Hopefully, those passersby who see me will recognize the Father's imprint.  Love, gentleness, kindness, peace, joy, and self-control.  And when they ask where or how, I'll say,

"I've been rescued."

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  Col. 1:13 NIV

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