A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

Grey Lady was a beautiful, purebred yellow-eyed weimaraner given to us by a friend. She was so affectionate, she’d stand on her hind legs, put her big paws on my shoulders and slobber her kisses all over my face. I’d push her away and say, “Get down, Grey Lady.” She seemed to think I meant, “I love your slobbery kisses, so give me some more,” and so lick me even harder.

The parsonage back yard abutted the church-school playground, and Grey Lady loved the children when they came to pet her. Often the boys, though warned against it, “accidentally” threw a ball into the fenced yard just to see Gray Lady react—which she always did, with savage intent. That ball had fallen from Heaven into her Master’s yard, and woe to the one who tried to rob her Master of his property! More than once I had to rescue a boy who dared to challenge Grey Lady’s possession of her Master’s ball.

But one afternoon, as I was driving just a couple of blocks from home, I saw Grey Lady sitting right in the middle of the street intersection. Astonished, I stopped the car, opened the back door and said, “Grey Lady, get in here! How in the world did you get out of the fence?”

She obediently hopped in the car, leaned happily over the front seat to express her joy at seeing me. When we got back to the house, she trotted down the familiar (I thought) sidewalk and waited for me to open the gate to her yard.

But when I opened the gate, I suddenly had two Grey Ladies, snarling and snapping at each other furiously. Which was my dog, and which the stranger I’d thought was mine? After a couple of agonizing moments, I figured out which dog was mine, and separated them. I opened the gate and marched the strange dog back to the car. She obediently hopped in the back seat again. I drove back to the corner of McCuen and Oregon, opened the door, and told her to jump out. She did, obediently. Again, she sat down in the middle of the intersection, but with a reproachful look, as if she couldn’t understand why I was abandoning her.

I should have known—I could have known—that she was not my beloved Grey Lady. There were enough differences visible that, if I had checked her unemotionally, I would have recognized them. Her quick acceptance disarmed me.

I face another, but enormously more important, similarity in what I’m seeing in some areas of today’s culture. I must use discernment if I am not to end up with two snarling dogs in my mind! That particular culture uses the same words—words like honor, love, freedom, acceptance—words that are precious and true. But they invest them with a different, distorted meaning. They demand from me, not just tolerance, but whole-hearted support for their agenda. They say I am hateful if I cling to the truth of the Bible, my only reliable source of eternal truth.

It isn’t easy to know how to respond. God knew we would face this heart-tugging dilemma, so He warned us,

“In the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to enjoy themselves in every evil way imaginable. Now they are here, and they are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They live by natural instinct because they do not have God’s Spirit living in them. But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith.”

The things that human beings know instinctively, the Bible says, things contrary to nature, those are the very things some non-Christian now condone. How should re respond? Simply to love people, have compassion for them, listen to them, but seek discernment from God for eternal truth. Believe me, I know. Two Grey Ladies in one back yard is one Grey Lady too many!