My son recently adopted a dog who had been rescued from a puppy mill. It is likely that she had been left in her cage for great lengths of time, sitting in her own excrement, filthy and used solely for the gain of another. She had been treated like an object who had now outlived her usefulness; discarded and abandoned; unwanted and unloved. We braced ourselves for severe behavioral problems and extra training. Her foster home wasn’t even sure she was fully potty trained, and said she showed signs of the food anxiety so often exhibited in animals who have been treated inhumanely and have had to fight to be fed.
Even her name seemed to be a sentence to failure. It was Lolita, which means “sexually precocious young girl.” We decided that our first act of love was to change Lolita’s name, therefore cutting off all connections with her past. Her name is now Lola, meaning, “sorrows” or Lolo, meaning “goofball.” My son and I gently trained her to recognize our voices and respond to her new name. We were thrilled when she began to run to find us when we called her.
Within 24 hours of adoption, Lolo surprised us all. From the first full day, her desire to please her new masters drove her to be careful not leave unwanted “packages” in the home. She cuddled and snuggled into our arms whenever we were sitting, and she ran around the house like a kook when one of us came home.
The whole experience has reminded me of when Jesus said that those who have been forgiven much are more grateful than those who believe they are not in need of much forgiveness. And though Lolo’s past wasn’t her fault, she seems to understand the depths of what she has been rescued from, and in response, has become completely and deliriously devoted to her deliverers.
How many of us, upon our rescue by Jesus, had been:
- Found captured in a cage of our own or other’s making?
- Left to feel dirty and unlovable?
- Called names that led us to identify with things we were never meant to believe about ourselves?
- Discarded after our abusers deemed us no longer a part of their plan?
Like Lolo, our desire to live in a way pleasing to God should be rooted in response to His great love and enriched by deep gratitude for the extremes that our Master went to in order to rescue us from sin and separation from Him. When He calls, we should be leaping and jumping in excitement for the adventure that awaits us. When we rest, we should be as closely snuggled in His arms as we can get. We should believe in who He says we are, rather than the who we were when He found us.
We all have a choice. We can either allow our past to cause us to be broken and bitter, or broken and better. We can, like Lolo, choose to respond to the love of our Master and become all that He has called us to become. We can allow God to “rename” us from forgotten to begotten; precocious to precious; trashed to treasured. We can allow God to train us as we follow His lead and learn to recognize His voice. Most significantly, we can, for the love that God has shown us, leave our pasts behind and joyfully experience our adoption in Him.
1John.3.  Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”