Charlie the Great Dane


Meet Charlie.


Charlie is a “Great” Dane with an even “greater” gut instinct.  He lives with a family whose 3 year old daughter, Brianna, has epilepsy.  But for some unexplainable reason, Charlie knows that her seizures are coming on 20 minutes before they happen. And when he senses that one is about to occur, Charlie “holds her gently against a wall” to keep her safe until someone can administer her medication.  That’s pretty cool.

There are many things to love about this story, but what I love most is that this dog knows what needs to be done, and he just does it.  No hesitation.  No second-guessing.

I heard this story on my favorite morning radio show last week, and it got me thinking about our gut instincts.  

I have them.  

You have them.  

We all do.  

And sometimes, they’re really powerful.  

Thirteen years ago, my sister, a sophomore in college at the time, hopped into her car to make the drive back to school after Christmas vacation.  It was about 5:30 in the morning, and she had to get back for an 8:30 class.  About an hour later, my mother-in-law (who had no idea my sister was traveling) sat upright in bed with an overwhelming urge to pray for my sister.  She even woke my father-in-law so that he could pray with her.  And at almost that exact moment in time, my sister was in a terrible car accident with an 18-wheeler.  The truck drove over the top of her car while merging onto the interstate.  She could have died.  But, after being pulled from the car, she walked away with a few scratches and some sore muscles.  

Kory and I went to get her from the local hospital because my parents were out of town, and when we arrived, we were asked to drive to the junk yard where they had taken her car so that we could retrieve her things and bring her home.  When we pulled up to her car, we couldn’t believe what we saw.  The entire dashboard and windshield on the driver’s side of the car had caved in all the way to the cushion of the driver’s seat.  When we asked my sister about it, she said that as the truck was coming into her lane, she heard an audible voice in her head tell her to duck into the passenger seat.  

That’s why she lived.

Now I can’t pretend to understand the fullness of what happened that day with respect to my mother-in-law’s prayers and my sister’s instinct to duck.  But I know this.  My mother-in-law had a gut instinct to pray.  Like Charlie, she knew what needed to be done, and she did it.  No hesitation.  No second-guessing.  And I’m so thankful she did.

I’ve never had that experience.  But my gut instincts have worked in other powerful ways.

A few years ago, I received a simple “regret” email from a close friend I had invited to a party.  She said nothing unusual in her email explaining that she couldn’t come, but her email left me thinking something wasn’t right with her.  That nagging feeling stayed with me over a period of weeks, but I brushed it under the rug.  Two months later, she confided in me that she and her husband had been experiencing fertility issues for several years and that she couldn’t bear to attend my party because there would have been too many pregnant women there.  Ouch.  I wish I hadn’t ignored my gut.

This wasn’t a first for me.  There had been many other occassions where my gut was telling me something I should have responded to with action but instead of listening to my gut, I ignored it.  Why?  Maybe (are you ready for some confessions?)…

I was too busy.

I didn’t want to pry.

I feared rejection.

I didn’t want to embarass myself or someone else.

Or I didn’t really want to know what was going on because I was afraid I couldn’t handle it.

There’s probably a slew of other reasons I’ve ignored my gut in the past. These are just a few that come to mind.

But inspite of all these insecurities and excuses I’ve made in the past, I’ve been on the receiving end of someone else’s kind gesture many times.  Someone who had a gut instinct about me and, rather than ignore it, they listened and took action. 

I can’t begin to describe the powerful impact it’s had on my life when I’ve been quietly struggling with something, so in need of support, and someone has seemingly come out of the woodwork to check on me. It’s often come in the form of something like this…”You’ve been on my heart the last few days. I don’t know why but I just thought I’d check on you.”  And just like that, the door was opened for me to share as much or as little as I wanted. But whether or not I shared, I was reminded that someone cared about me, and I saw God’s provision in my life through another person.  

Now I have a different relationship with my gut instinct.  When it speaks, I listen.  And I try to act. No hesitation. No second-guessing. 

A short email.

A simple text. 

An invitation to coffee or lunch. 


I have found that when I take the time to follow my gut instincts, they’re often right.  And by taking a few minutes to reach out, I am opening up the line of communication and giving someone the opportunity to share.  

And maybe, I can serve as evidence of God’s provision in someone else’s life. 

Who might you need to reach out to today? 




5 thoughts on “Charlie the Great Dane

  1. So true! We have “gut feeling” for a reason so we should be listening to it. Someday when we have a lot of time to chat, I’ll tell you a beautiful story about a “gut” feeling that I believe was direct instruction from God, and it did make a difference in the lives of others.

  2. I have a feeling I know the story Amber is talking about! Great post, Jen! The more I listen to my ‘gut’ or my God – which is what I think it is – the more I know I can trust voice! Obedience is the best faith builder I have found to date!

    • I agree — it is definitely the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and minds. It can be scary to follow those promptings if we’ve not done that regularly, but you are right that is is a faith builder when we see the implications of our obedience in hindsight.

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