What happens in Vegas… when a bulldog teaches us about God’s love.

I believe that the world around us operates on the currency of redemption: God redeemed us from our sin, and we imitate that exchange in daily life. And sometimes a lady and her bulldog show us a crystal clear image of what that’s like.

One day on our Las Vegas trip, I was lounging with a few teammates in the UNLV student center. Outside the window, we saw an older woman sitting with a stocky bulldog at her feet. She had been walking this bulldog… in a baby stroller. Actually, I think it was a stroller especially designed for dogs. And she was feeding him pieces of chicken out of her plate of Chinese food.

You can't make this kind of thing up. Here's me with Elizabeth and Gaston.
This was our view. You can’t make this kind of thing up. Here’s me (left) with Elizabeth and Gaston.

One of us pointed her out, and we laughed good-naturedly, but I felt a little tug in my heart to go talk to her. (Sometimes the Holy Spirit prompts us to do things that are a little out of our comfort zones, obviously.) I went outside and began to chat.

Her name was Elizabeth, and the spoiled diva at her feet was Gaston. But as I asked her more about Gaston, I realized that this wasn’t just some crazy old lady who obsesses over her dog. In fact, Elizabeth has a special relationship to this English bulldog: she rescued Gaston from a horrendously abusive living situation where he was trapped in his own filth, poorly fed, and neglected. She had gone through a long process, which included flying to another state, to rescue him from a bulldog rescue organization. It took her a long time to nurture him back to health, getting him accustomed to trusting human interaction. And since he can’t walk well because of the physical damage and deformities caused by his abuse, she uses the stroller to get him around. (At this point, I really regretted laughing at the two of them.)

And she loved him. Really, really loved him. She would do anything for him. She teared up and began to cry several times while she told he his story, wiping her tears with her Panda Express napkins. She told me about the beautiful moment when she first met him… he ran up to her in the airport as if he just knew she was going to love him forever.

Now, I have always loved to find redemption and mirror images of the Gospel reflected in our daily lives. And, as I told Elizabeth while I sat with her, this sweet woman was a pure picture of the love that God has for us. While were living in our own filth and sin, trapped in conditions that ruined us, God took notice of us. He went to great lengths to pull us up out of that cage and clean us off, and He loves us enough to bring us back to health and give us His love and care on this Earth and in heaven–just like Elizabeth does everything she can to help Gaston heal and live.

My favorite part about meeting these two was the way that Gaston acted during our entire conversation. He was not leashed, and he was free to run away if he wanted. Knowing his past, I knew that he had every reason to be mistrustful or vicious. But he didn’t run away–he laid down at Elizabeth’s feet and looked at her, knowing that she was going to protect him because she had in the past. And our Heavenly Father has protected us, rescued us, and given us everything that we need. He doesn’t keep us on a leash or force us to love him, and we’re free to leave if we want. But why would we? He loves us… just like Elizabeth loves Gaston.

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