Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Dog - Man's best Friend

You have all heard the idiom "gone to the dogs"  -- well,  my thoughts have 'gone to the dogs' rather literally.  


There are so many negative expressions about dogs ... like if someone is in trouble with his wife he is 'in the dog house' ... or if things are going wrong for someone they say "its a dog's life'.  Or it is rather insulting to say about someone .. "you can't teach an old dog new tricks".  And we describe our society as a 'dog-eat'dog-world' ...   

And yet .. on the other hand we say a dog is man's best friend  --- as the sweet photo above portrays.  

Every part of God's creation is infused with a lesson -- an opportunity to learn about God and our relationship with Him, or it provides a 'mirror' to learn about ourselves !  

So I just want to share a few of my thoughts about what I have learned from 'dogs'.  

1.  "Pride in Belonging!"    
The other day we drove past a homeless camp and there was a man with a beautiful German Shepherd dog.  I watched the dog so proudly walk beside his owner and the thought struck me that it makes no difference to a dog if he is owned by a homeless, penniless, ragged, dirty man living in squalor,  or if he is owned by the Queen of England, living in a palace!   
He knows who he belongs to and is proud of it !   His desires nothing more .. he belongs !  
I thought about how often Christians are not always so proud to acknowledge who they belong to, being afraid of being mocked or laughed at or embarrassed..  We are not always ready to defend our faith, to speak of the One we belong to. 
There is a verse that is sobering and goes beyond just avoiding an embarrassing moment -- but a dog would never be guilty of it .. 
"But whoever denies Me before men, 
him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."
Matt. 10:33 
(see Matt. 10:32 for the positive) 

2. "Never Questioning"
I think it is impossible for a dog to hold a grudge.  No matter how he is treated or neglected by his owner.  He can be left alone all day and yet  all is well as soon as the master returns and the dog turns himself inside out eager to  communicate his greeting and joy at seeing his master again !  

A dog never blames or questions his master for what he does or neglects to do. Never questions how he is provided for, whether the food is plenty or sparse.  He desires only to be with his Master and seeks his pleasure. 
I think about the times I have heard Christians question God and His ways.  I read yesterday that a very well known Christian leader acknowledged that he shook his fist at God because He did not heal his wife's cancer.
 It would never occur to a dog that his master could do any wrong. 
Wow ... if a dog so trusts a human master, how much more should we trust our Heavenly Father who is infinitely good and wise and full of love toward us ... even when we do not understand His ways !  
Job had a 'dog's'  attitude when he said .. 
the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; 
blessed be the name of the Lord 
(Job 1:20–21).
And we have God's promise in Rom. 8:28 .... 
"And we know that all things work together
 for good 
to those who love God, 
to those who are the called according to His purpose..."

3. "Unconditional love" 
The capacity of a dog to love his master is amazing to watch.  I had a wolf/dog for a pet that showed such pure love in her eyes when she looked at me that it melted my heart.  She thought I was her Alpha Wolf, the one she loved and obeyed .  She made me feel how important I was to her !! 
God's love for us is unconditional  and it is wonderful to acknowledge that kind of love toward us .   But  I have heard many times Christians who will 'brag' (openly or suggestively)  about how God has blessed them as a reward for what they did for Him !  
I like Ann Landers quote, "Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful!"
Yes, God's love for us is beyond what we can understand or fathom but it has nothing to do with how wonderful we are ... and isn't that a relief ?  How could we EVER deserve or earn the love of God.   God loves us because we are His ...  and because of who HE is , not because of who we are.  
And it is true humility that understands that ! 
"Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
James 4:6 
And that beautiful verse in Micah 6:8 
"He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humble with your God."

4. "Self-less service" 
A dog is devoted 24/7 to serving his master and never tires of it.  Dogs will not think twice before protecting their master, risking their own lives ... and they  make wonderful service dogs.  A dog delights in serving and seems to have tireless energy. 
Are we so self-less and committed to service as a dog ?   Speaking for myself I would have to say, 'no'.  
And yet that is what we are called to, isn't it ?  To serve our Lord and Master with joy ? And to serve one another in love?   
"The greatest among you will be your servant." 
Matt. 23:11 

"Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, 
especially to those who are of the household of faith. " 
Galatians 6:10

"Work willingly at whatever you do, 
as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, 
and that the Master you are serving is Christ." 

5. "To Forgive"
A dog is so forgiving he does not even recognize that he has cause to forgive !!  
A quote by an unknown author -  ... "To err is human - to forgive is canine."
God asks us to forgive even as we have been forgiven ... yet, we struggle to let go of our grudges and feelings of having been 'ill done by'. or mistreated!
To not  even acknowledge that we have been wronged ?  That is a hard lesson to learn ... And I think the only way it can be learned is if our love for the offender  is 'bigger'  than our sense of having been hurt or insulted, or offended. 
" And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
"Eph. 4:32 
"Love suffers long and is kind, ...  is not provoked ... thinks no evil !" 
I Cor. 13:4,5 

It is considered an insult to be called a dog ... but I'm thinking that if someone compares me to a dog, I might just take it as a high compliment !!  😊

PRAYER --- "Dear Lord,  thank you for the many lessons who put into your creation for us to learn from.  Make us more aware of the many ways you speak to us, and may we let your truth change our hearts and make us more like you !  I thank you for all my friends here and I pray a special blessing of your love poured out upon them .. and may they know your love is not earned, it is not deserved, it is simply given !!   You are truly the One, 'who alone is wise and to you be glory and majesty , dominion and power,both now and forever!!! amen' "

POSTSCRIPT    - (ADDED BY THE LORD)  regarding the above 4th point 
I wrote the above lesson early Tuesday afternoon before I went to visit my Dad.  He was not doing very well and had a hard time staying awake.  I waited to feed him his dinner (a few spoonfuls!) and then I left 'just at the right time' to meet a resident at the elevator. We were both going down. 
She warmly greeted me and I was immediately drawn to her. 
Our conversation flowed and this is what I learned about this glowing, joyful lady who looked years younger than her 89 years. 

Her mother was widowed at too young an age, and was a very poor widow with 7 children .. Hilda was one of them. 
Her mother was not well and her youngest sister had serious health issues, needing a lot of care. 
She considered at an early age that if she married and had her own family she would not be able to provide the care her mom and sister needed.  She knew she could not do both and so decided that she would devote her life to caring for others.  With a smile she said, "I know I made the right choice!"   She became a nurse and worked many years in maternity wards and in extended care homes to provide the income her family needed.  
Her life was given in self-less service to others.  
Her mother and most of her siblings have all passed on -- only she and one brother are left. 
When we said good-bye I had tears in my eyes and told her what an inspiration she was to me and I assured her that she had many rewards waiting for her in heaven.