Where I'm from, there were stray dogs everywhere. If you saw one that was particularly cute, or if you just wanted to have a pet, they would simply start coming as you left food for them. They were grateful and loving, but they each had their own issues. Each of them had been through pain, through abandonment or abuse. They would shrink back from, or bark angrily at, a certain type of person. They always seemed to carry that bit of suspicion with them, like a wound that would never quite heal.

To love a stray was to love an imperfect creature, a creature who may one day make a mess somewhere you didn't expect, who may carry the fear or anger of a past attack or abandonment for years. My grandmother wasn't very good at this. Dogs would suddenly be gone from our house, simply because they had ripped up a plant or barked at a cousin. Grandmother would allow these dogs to live within her gates because they were free, and because the pleasure she got out of them was worth the scraps of food she gave them.

God, thankfully, is not like my grandmother. The Bible shows us a God who prepares a feast for us, even when we don't even deserve His scraps. The Word reveals a Savior who will never turn his back on us or give up on us. We are shown a God who loves us despite the messes we make and the anger and fear that shapes our actions, indeed a God whose very love is the antidote for whatever aims to harm us.

This is the most beautiful news that a world full of Strays could hear. There is a God who will love us unconditionally, who prepares for us a feast and a new, beautiful life. All of the fear inside of us, from the pain and crushing heartbreak we've been through, is healed by Perfect Love. All of the anger that makes us lash out... this is the most beautiful part, because we have a God who holds us through our darkest night, with our teeth biting at air and biting at Him, our paws straining to escape what will surely be more pain...

I know this because I'm a stray. I still need a God who will hold me through my dark night, who will love me even though I just barked at his kid and pooped in his grass.

This one is for the strays.

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