If Jesus had a dog, what kind would he have? It is with no small amount of sheepishness that I will admit it is inane questions such as this that grip me at times. Most often it is in the middle of the night, or at church that such musings are birthed, and despite the lack of intellectual benefit such a query would seem to have, I find myself caught up in the wondering.
The train of this thought eventually led me to ponder my own dog. I have a ten year old Shetland Sheepdog. Zephyr is truly the sweetest, smartest dog you’ll ever meet. However, I have long struggled to love her as I should. When we first met, she was an adorable, pudgy bit of fluff. I was captivated. I took her home with visions of our happy dog licking our giggling children in hours of play. She would grow into a fierce protector, bravely keeping watch over the family. And if Timmy fell down the well, our miniature Lassie would be smart enough to communicate the dire predicament and save the day.
But I quickly discovered that she was a lot of work. The things she would do…and get into…and eat…ugh! Even those of you who are dyed-in-the-wool dog folks have to admit that they are, at times, disgusting creatures. The visions of a happy dog licking my children’s faces flew out the door the first time I caught her noshing on…recycled food. Yuck! And so I discovered that I am an animal person in theory more than in practice.
All of these musings then wrapped back around to what kind of dog the Lord would have and, startled, I realized he doesn’t need a dog. He has me.
You see, I am often like a hyperactive puppy with serious attention issues. With my nose (and eyes) to the ground, I wander aimlessly, sniffing out the newest tantalizing smell with little thought to where it’s coming from. I sometimes yap incessantly for no good reason. I get lost on numerous rabbit trails, with no real goal in mind, only occasionally lifting my head to bay at the sky.
Along the way I may even find something particularly vile to nibble on. Or, if sampling the putrid snack doesn’t quite satisfy, perhaps I’ll just roll in it. This is usually done with utter abandon, metaphorical doggy legs in the air, rolling until I’m coated with filth.
From a distance, I will hear the voice of my Master calling to me. I then realize how badly I reek. Shamed, I slink to him with my tail tucked firmly between my legs, all the while berating myself with ‘whys’. Why did I do or think or say those things? Why did I allow myself to be seduced by that temptation…again? Why can’t I stay on the right path? Sigh.
It isn’t until I lift my soulful, repentant eyes to my Owner that I see the compassion in his. Then I see him reaching down with gentle hands to cleanse my coated fur. And when I see anew how much this Master loves me I am joyful once more, wagging my tail furiously, eager to please only him.
I am so grateful that, unlike me with my dear, sweet Zephyr, our Lord has no struggles with loving us. His love for us is not just theory, but is acted out in practice every single day.
So how do I stay close to my Master rather than bounding off on my own again and again? I find that time is the key. Spending time in Scripture and prayer enables me to recognize and distinguish his voice from the din of others’. It also serves as a leash of sorts. It binds me to him in a way that nothing else does. When I am in communion with Jesus, it becomes easier to ‘heel’ and allow him to lead. Conversely, when I forsake that time with him, the sounds and scents of the world lure me all to easily.
We have all rolled in disgusting things. Yet, our Jesus loves us and will clean us up no matter how stinky we get. Isn’t that a relief? Just as we adopt and love our sometimes disturbing canine creatures, our Lord adopted us, loves us and even calls us his friends. What an awesome Master we have!
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11 (NLT)
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
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