Hudson Taylor said, "A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing."
Faithfulness is a big deal. It is not something people can buy, demand, manipulate or coerce in another, but something we all desperately want – in ourselves and in others.
With the moral fiber of our society crumbling and the value or validity of all virtues being questioned, faithfulness seems to be harder to find, and only temporarily exhibited if we think it is emotionally or physically beneficial to us. If the going gets tough; if we are hurt or offended; if we are asked to sacrifice too much for the sake of another, we quickly rationalize and find justification for bailing out of the situation or relationship.
For 11 years and six months my Barnabas' daily "little things" added up to be a really "big thing" in my life. This St. Patrick's Day, my red Australian Shepherd would have been 12 years old. For 11 years, every St. Pat's Day, we had a birthday party for Barney. It was such a great excuse to get together with family and friends, wear green, eat, drink, be merry and sing happy birthday to Barney. We have some priceless pictures of Barn, Caboose and my son's two Aussie's, Waldo and Edi at one of these celebrations. The four of them are donning silly green hats as they posed side by side, anxiously awaiting their birthday party treats! Even my daughter's little Maltese named Eoin, has the same birthday so it has often been a big family affair.
I still keep a picture on the fridge of Barn and I last St. Patrick's Day. The family gathered at my son's house. It was a beautiful evening so we celebrated out on their huge deck while watching March Madness (believe it or not, we had a big TV screen on the deck!). We have hilarious snapshots of the canine partiers each wearing their St. Patrick's Day attire, holding their little doggie peanut butter ice cream containers between their paws, trying to get every yummy drop out of those little containers. In one photo, little Cooper's hat, (my Shi-Tzu grand-dog) is tilted off to the side and he has a look on his face as if he's had one too many green beers!
I felt a stab in my heart when I saw the first St. Patrick's Day merchandise displays in the stores. It still hardly seems possible that my Barn is gone. It's hard to imagine ever feeling anything but pain when this holiday comes around. I know someday I'll be able to look at the pictures and smile at all the great memories we made — but not this year.
Most dogs are born with an instinctual desire to be with us in a "till death do we part" relationship of loyalty, trust, and unwavering faithfulness. I think that is why we love this amazing inspirational creature so much. It takes horrendous abuse to make a dog turn away from a person they've given their heart to. They will forgive us a thousand times. I see this marvelous quality almost every time we rescue an abandoned and mistreated dog. With very few exceptions, they are always ready and willing to love again.
Page 2 of 2 - Faithfulness is the moment-by-moment "hangeth-thou-in-there," simply staying, not leaving — ever, no matter what. I wish I could say I'd always lived my life that way. Sadly, I haven't. My faithful God blessed me with a visual example of faithfulness in Barney (and so many other dogs I have had the privilege of knowing). Barney was always, always there for me. Even in angry or ugly times he could melt away the hard crust around my heart, just by resting his sweet head in my lap. I am so thankful that as long as we are still breathing, we have the opportunity to be better people.
I pray that maybe at the end of my life I'll hear "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" I whispered those words in my Barney's ears the day we had to say good-bye! He was my faithful one to the last beat of his heart and I was so blessed.
Leanne Williams is president of Faithful Friends.