Yesterday we received Rocky’s permanent dog license tag from the County of San Bernardino. In past years, they issued new tags for each payment period, but the bureaucracy has finally realized it is cheaper and more efficient to issue one stainless steel tag that will last the dog’s lifetime.

As Richard attached the shiny new tag to Rocky’s collar, I reflected on his life with us over the past 15 months. After we had to have our beloved Smokey the collie put to sleep in early 2004, we mourned him. We toyed with the idea of swearing off dogs, but I especially (maybe because I worked at home) had a dog-shaped hole in my heart that just didn’t go away. Richard began watching the local advertiser, The Green Sheet (where, incidentally, we had initially found Smokey), and one day we found him: a year-and-a half-old oversized Sheltie whose owner was going through a divorce and needed to find a home for her dog.

We met him, and he was playful, smart, and responsive. After we changed his name from Angel to Rocky, his adoption was complete. And then we began to discover what his life must have been like.

We soon decided that Rocky had severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He bolted from the room if we adjusted the shades on the window. His eyes would fill with fear and he would run from the room if Richard picked up papers of any kind—or his belt, or a flashlight, or even a tape measure. If we put him outdoors, he would cringe and roll over, paws up, eyes pleading.

For weeks I wondered if we had made a mistake. Gradually, however, Rocky began to lose his automatic fear responses. They didn’t go away all at once, but they abated slowly and consistently. I can adjust the blinds now without his leaving the room. He no longer fears Richard holding papers or belts and actually dozes in his lap. He goes outside without fear. He has become a most delightful pet—loyal, playful, affectionate, and smart.

We can only surmise the kinds of abuse and chaos Rocky endured in his previous home—but his behavior made it clear he was conditioned to fear a variety of noises and behaviors—especially if those things were done by a man.

Actually, Rocky’s metamorphosis reminds me of me. When God rescued me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13), he didn’t just save me from evil—He began to change me. His consistent love and discipline has begun to heal the old wounds in my heart. My automatic self-protective responses are less intense and less frequent. I actually feel secure—a remarkable reality after years of fearing I would be lost.

Changing masters is the most significant thing any of us does in a lifetime. Either we stay bound to fear and despair with our first, natural master, or we take the risk of letting go of everything we know in order to belong to a new Master in a new kingdom.

God is faithful. His rescue may shock us, but He will ultimately transform us into the image of His beloved Son—free from the scars of the past, alive and free in Jesus for all eternity.

Rocky and I understand each other; we both know what it means to have new masters! —Colleen Tinker, editor

makes the difference
The Master



Copyright 2000-2012 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Casa Grande, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 11, 2012. Contact email: