I think of the eight years and six months in the high desert as one long boot camp run by Jesus, the Master Drill Sergeant. The same Lord who appeared as the gentle Lamb early in my Christian walk was anything but, during this period. He was a tough Master who allowed nothing to escape His eyes. My sins and bad attitudes were seen for what they were and handled quickly by Him.
He accepted only one answer when He asked me to do something which was, “Yes, Lord.”
And He never welcomed me saying, “Why do You want me to do that, Lord?”
I learned to jump when He said, “Jump.” Sit when He said, “Sit.” Pray when He said, “Pray.” Move when He said, “Move.” Rest when He said, “Rest.” Study when He said, “Study.” He was the Boss and I was not.
The actual boot camp did not begin when I first arrived in California City. It began three weeks later, on the morning of January 25th.
Though the rent on the furnished studio apartment on Dogbane Avenue was paid through the end of the month, frustration overwhelmed me that morning. Nothing worked. Everything I sent heaven’s way resulted in nothing coming back in my direction. I felt no closer to knowing what to do than when I arrived three weeks earlier.
Why would the Lord ignore me? I thought. Didn’t He understand time was running out for San Francisco?
The temperatures outside, hovered near 32 degrees, and light sleet fell as I looked out the window at 7 a.m.
“That’s it!” I said aloud. “I’m fed up with waiting around this city. I’m going home.”
I spent the following half-hour stuffing two suitcases with clothes and personal items. When I finished, I loaded everything into my Honda Accord. I dropped the apartment key in the overnight box, outside the office, and drove off.
Driving south on Kenniston Street, my thoughts rambled through a wide series of options, but none of them focused on driving. Maybe if I had paid attention, the accident would have been avoided.
A black blur jumped off the curb and ran under my Honda’s wheels before I could react.
Looking in the rearview mirror, I saw a pile of black fur wiggling in the street. I pulled over to the curb, opened the door, and ran toward the animal.
It was a black Labrador puppy, less than six months old. Blood streamed out of his mouth. Loud moans gurgled out of his heaving chest. A back leg quivered in painful spasms. His eyes pleaded for help.
I scooped him up and laid him on the passenger’s seat. I then broke the world’s speed record to the High Desert Veterinarian Clinic on California City Boulevard. I rang a bell, sitting on the counter.
“Emergency. Help me,” I shouted.
A young receptionist with kind eyes ran through a side door.
“Follow me,” she said.
She led me into a sterile smelling room and pointed toward an examining table. I laid the puppy on it.
“Is this your dog?” she asked.
“No. I just hit him and brought him here.”
“Hmm. No collar or nametag,” she said, “I’ll get the doctor.”
She closed the door as she hurried out.
As I sat there, I felt the Hold Spirit speak to my heart.
“Like you, this puppy ran off. He did not like the way his Master trained him. So, as soon as the door opened a crack, he left. Now, look what’s happened to him.”
“Lord, is this You?” I whispered.
The Holy Spirit ignored my question and continued speaking.
“You know, Labradors are specifically bred to please their masters. It’s ingrained in their DNA. But if a firm hand is not used to discipline them in their training, they are rebellious mutts. They will urinate on rugs, chew furniture, and do whatever mischief they can. Yet, it is their deepest desire to please their masters.”
“Lord, is this You?” I whispered again.
The Holy Spirit continued to ignore my questions.
“Young prophets are like Labrador puppies. Their spiritual DNA is specifically designed to please the Father, but they, too, are impatient and hate His training methods. So, Jeremiah, what are you going to do? Run away.”
This time I kept quiet.
“If waiting is a nuisance that wearies you, how will you contend with principalities? And if in a city of peace, you are wearied, then how will you handle a city under siege?”
Just then, a wide-bodied woman, wearing a white smock rushed into the room.
“I’m Doctor Lewis.”
I nodded toward her, but said nothing.
She examined the puppy, handling him with tenderness.
“So, this is not your puppy, huh?”
“Does it make any difference?” I asked.
She opened her hands with the palms up. Her face registered tough love.
“No matter what we do, this puppy will have a limp. So, if it’s not yours, we’ll put it to sleep. No one will ever adopt a crippled puppy.”
I looked into the puppy’s eyes and blurted an answer before my brain could put on its brakes.
“It’s my dog. Do what needs to be done.”
She looked at me a moment before a hint of a smile wrinkled her lips.
“Okay, wait in the lobby.”
I drove the puppy back to the apartment and named him King Albert because he first stayed in my bathroom. (King Albert in a can.) I eventually called him just Albert. He became my loyal friend and a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s warning: “Jeremiah, what are you going to do? Run away.”
Excerpt from Jonah by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2012, Amazon eNovel.
(Continued in Part 13…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.)