Fourth Tuesday of Advent: Big and Small

By Beth Walker

Advent Devotional | December 21, 2021

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” —Matthew 10:29-31 (Read Matthew 10)

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” —Isaiah 66:13 (Read Isaiah 66)

I have always been a dog person.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I had a Rottweiler named Samson. Then we added a Great Dane named Sadie (insert palm to forehead action here). And when Samson died, my dear husband was so upset that within a month, we had another Rottweiler—a puppy named Gideon.

Given their stature, rotties can most definitely handle being named after Old Testament judges! Gideon weighs a good twenty pounds more than Samson did (more palm to face here), and at just over a year old, we had to spend a lot of money to get the giant rock he ate surgically removed from his stomach.

Don’t feel bad for us. We do this to ourselves.

I come by my love of dogs honestly. Growing up, there was never a time we did not have a dog, and eventually we had two.

I recently pulled a stack of boxes out of my parents’ attic, things I saved and considered important from grade school all the way through college. There I found my Best Junior Handler trophy from when I competed with my Golden Retriever, Carrie. I loved that dog. She was my dog, and she gave me more opportunities to grow in confidence and responsibility as a young person than almost anything else.

Another thing I found in the attic was a manila envelope full of envelopes and cards from every person who supported me on my first big mission experience post-college, a six-month Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission (YWAM). Reading through them again, I was reminded of God’s care for me—in big and small ways.

A few months into my YWAM experience, while I was in Kawasaki, Japan, I got some really hard news. My dog Carrie had a large mass in her stomach, revealed on an MRI scan done by her vet.

I felt helpless, alone—and frankly, silly. I talked to the Lord:

God, how is this happening? I am over here, a million miles away from home, and there is nothing I can do. God, please heal her! This seems like such a stupid thing, so small compared to other problems, but God please. She means so much to me. Please don’t let her die.

I asked all my YWAM teammates to pray for my dog, even in the midst of the work we were doing sharing the Gospel in Japan. And they delighted in sharing my burden. My request was not too small.

I don’t remember everything that happened in Japan. The details of our small gripes and griefs tend to fade, but God’s part in the story—His faithfulness—only grows and becomes clearer. The memory of a particular phone call with my mom has gotten bigger and bigger.

Carrie had just had a follow-up appointment and a second scan, and my mom said that the vet just couldn’t understand it. When they did the second scan, the mass was gone.

The vet didn’t understand it. But I did.

In that moment, it was as if God reached His paternal hands down to me, grabbed my shoulders, looked into my eyes, and said, “See Beth? I do care. I care about all of you and everything you care about.”

With God, all things are possible. Even healing for a dog.

Decades later, I remember God’s particular care every time I come home and am greeted by my dogs.

The absolute, cannot-be-contained joy from my rottie Gideon greets me when I walk in the door. He wants nothing more than to put his giant paws on my shoulders and lick my face. That dog will always love me—no matter what I say or do in a day. His forgiveness for me when I yell at him for doing things dogs do is always there. He wants nothing less—and nothing more—than for me to get right up in his face and give him a big hug.

And all of this is a constant.

Gideon reminds me of the persistent faithfulness of God. Whether in the intricacies of bird feathers, the bones of a horse’s legs, or the tail wag of a dog, God cares about every detail. He delights in them, just like He delights to share our burdens, no matter the size.

This too is a constant.

Praise be to God who acts on behalf of His creation—you, me, and even the animals.

—Beth Walker serves at the CCO as Director of Support Raising Ministry and Regional Gifts Officer. On January 1, 2022, she will become Vice President for Advancement.