Friday, September 23, 2016

Life on the Ledge

The old man nudged me carefully to the edge of the ravine. He held onto me as I looked down to the ledge and saw the dog was still there. The animal was stone silent, barely moving, and still alive. The old man said there was no way to save the scarcely alive dog. His words felt like a sledgehammer crushing what little hope I hung onto. I was not looking to be a nine-year-old hero. I had given up on that fantasy nurtured by reading those Zane Grey Western magazines. This felt like real life and death. I wanted a solution to an impossible situation.

When the dog saw us he began to yelp again, more weakly this time like he knew its fate.

The old man grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “We need to go, let nature take its course! We can’t help this dog.”

That was the hardest decision any kid could make. Walk away and let the dog die, either through exhaustion and lack of food and water. Or falling off the ledge to the crater floor fifty feet below. I remember weeping as the old man nudged me along. I recall still hearing the faint wailing as we walked away until distance made it no longer audible. To this very day, within my spirit, I can still hear the sound of that dog crying out for help. It was a defining moment and a reminder about dealing with life on a ledge.

As an adult, I know there are time when we have to walk away and demonstrate tough love. A good friend’s brother was sleeping in a cardboard box underneath the George Washington Bridge because of addictions. As painful a choice it was, the family all agreed to tough love to encourage the brother to make the right decisions. This situation had a blessed outcome. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

There are times when family members or friends end up on a “ledge” crying out for help. Sometimes it’s from circumstances beyond one’s control. Sometimes, it’s by their own doing. The choices leading to a resolution are not always obvious or within our reach.

When the dog moaned on that ledge, my young mind did not comprehend fully the scope of God’s way with miracles. Today as an adult when facing the impossible I choose to rely on Scriptures like Matthew 19:26 - Jesus looked at them and said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Now the final question. Could God have saved the dog I still think about? The circumstances were clearly impossible.

What’s your view on this?

Robert Parlante
September 2016

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