Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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April 28 Post

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“If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink…do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21

It’s all fun and games until the dog bites. At the height of summer when my new home town empties of everybody who lives or travels north, there’s a place I go where crisp mornings require a jacket. By mid-day in July, the weather warms deliciously to the 70’s in Colorado, on what we might consider a perfect January morning here in Florida.

Wherever I travel, our Portuguese Water dog Jazz trots along. He’s an equal opportunity nature lover, dividing his time between wave chasing at the shore most of the year, and scampering up mountain trails after the scent of mammals much greater in size in the summer.

We’re mindful of the migration of wild animals, though the greater risk comes from a cantankerous neighbor or feral dog. There’s a particular cabin in our western wilderness, where such a man lives with his ferocious sounding creature, thinly kept behind a fence he didn’t used to know he could escape in a bound.

One day, my neighbor was walking her dog past this same house when said dog created a fierce-some racket. Much to the shock of both my friend and her dog, the captive beast made its escape and tore into my friend’s leashed pet. The owner came out, words were exchanged, and dogs retreated. In due season, the bite marks healed.

Yet something was nagging at my friend. She’d been on the receiving end of his uncharitable words, and it was her dog who had been injured. By every account, she had a right to feel indignant, or angry. It took a few days, but she got to thinking about it. She wondered what might be happening in the life of this generally disagreeable person with his equally disagreeable dog. So, she called him up and asked him about his life. She learned that he had been quite ill, and would soon undergo a difficult surgery.

Shortly thereafter, I heard her call for prayer for him at church, and then she delivered a special gift that she hoped would bring him comfort. Her generosity of spirit and trust in the Lord’s wisdom moved me. She understood the invitation of scripture to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us. And in the process, God increased her compassion and she gained a friend.

We don’t really know how our faith will hold, until the dog bites. Then God reveals to us a more excellent way than the ways of the world. “If your enemies are hungry, feed them…overcome evil with good.”

Prayer: God of Life, it is beyond tempting to talk negatively about our neighbors with a friend, or post something unkind about them on Facebook. Pepper our thoughts with compassion and our speech with kindness, that all may know your love through us. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Community Church of Vero Beach