It started with a nice piece of fudge, sans nut. I hadn’t known Elizabeth long enough to know if she could eat them. Earlier in the day, Eugene and I headed to Temecula’s Old Town for a play date.

One of our favorite stops is a candy shop with some melt-in-your-mouth fudge. Eugene got a piece of Rocky Road for himself. Since I don’t eat it, I usually pick out something for a friend. This time, I picked a plain slap for Elizabeth, our new neighbor. Though I didn’t know her nut preference, I already discovered that she LOVES chocolate so we decided to surprise her with a treat.

When we got home I knocked on her door several times to no response. I texted her to see if she was feeling OK. We exchanged numbers a week or so earlier because she’s in her mid-80s and lives alone with her dog, Cowboy.

Her daughter, Tina, lives about five minutes away but just underwent neck surgery and was recuperating at home. We assured Tina we would keep on eye on her mom, who has a pacemaker and several other health issues.

Elizabeth texted back: “lori could you please come to the door and I well tell you.”

I headed next door just after the sun had set and a distraught Elizabeth greeted me at the door.

“Cowboy had a stroke,” she said, her lip quivering. “Tina was here but she couldn’t stay because of her neck.”

Elizabeth led me back to her darkened bedroom where Cowboy was lying on a blanket. The only thing he could move was his eyes. She tried to get him to lift his head, but it was dead weight. The vet said told her if Cowboy didn’t show improvement by the next morning, he would need to put him down.

Elizabeth was heartsick, as loss had been her frequent companion. She already survived two husbands and two children. She admitted to having chest pains but wasn’t sure if it was serious or stress. She didn’t want to trouble Tina.

I knew what I could offer, but in my humanness, I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Was it too much too soon? Would it cause a door to slam on our budding relationship? What if the results weren’t what she wanted, would it cause her to doubt? After a quick, internal struggle, I opted for faith over fear.  

“Is it OK if I prayed for Cowboy?”

“Please,” came her breathy response.

I reached over and put my hand on Cowboy’s side and placed my other hand on Elizabeth. There, in the quiet, I prayed for a dog and his human momma. I don’t remember the words. All I know is it bubbled up from the heart.

A few minutes later I helped her move Cowboy to the floor so she could get some sleep. I left knowing the rest was in far more capable hands.

The next day Eugene and left early to run errands and I wondered how the four-legged patient was doing. Mid-morning Elizabeth send a text.

“Cowboy seems to be doing better and can get up for a few seconds, then falls over. Thanks a million for the fudge that I had to try last night & helping me with him. Last but not least is the prayers as my chest is fine and Cowboy has certainly improved.”

By the time we headed home, Elizabeth’s door was open and Cowboy was sitting on his haunches nearby, a weak bark trying to erupt from his tired body. Still a ways from wholeness, his overnight recovery was remarkable-and Elizabeth was beaming.

At that moment, I was reminded, yet again, of what is possible when we choose not to give in to fear—and it is a choice. Had I followed my original instinct two things are certain. First, there is no telling what would have happened to Cowboy (or his momma, for that matter) and, second, Elizabeth and I would have been denied a divine blessing.

It’s not an accident that fear is one of the most prevalent topics in the Bible. Several online sources say that phrases related to fear number in the 300s, depending on the version. That’s a good indication that humans routinely struggle with it, even though it is not God’s design for us.

I like the way Christian artist Zach Williams tackles the topic in his hit song, “Fear is a Liar.” The chorus goes:

“Fear, he is a liar. He will take your breath. Stop you in your steps. Fear he is a liar.He will rob your rest. Steal your happiness. Cast your fear in the fire. ‘Cause fear he is a liar”

The Good News is that faith—when we let it—trumps fear. Isaiah 41:10 tells us: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”Paul addresses fear in the context of a believer’s heritage in Romans 8:15:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

As sons and daughters of the living God, we are born into a legacy far stronger than fear and that, my friends, is far sweeter than fudge.

Relating with you,

Pastor Lori

Photo by heathergunn/Pixabay