While the rest of the world hunkers down at least 6 feet from one another, my dogs have been enjoying our daily walks around the neighborhood. Spending so much time with them has caused me to reflect on the similarities between their relationship with me and my relationship with God. Since the next two days of Holy Week are somber and introspective, I thought I’d go with a little levity today, courtesy of my furry friends.
So in these analogous relationships, my dogs are to me as I am to God. To be clear, I have no delusions that I am God (not even to my dogs) or even like God. And actually, the chasm between my level of thinking and God’s is infinitely greater than the one that exists between my dogs and me. With that said, here are some things that I have learned from my dogs:
They trust me
Much of the time, my dogs have no idea what I’m doing with or to them, but they follow me wherever I lead. I open the car door and they hop in. We could be going for a hike or going to the vet. They don’t know and they don’t care, they just hop in.
How I would love to have that unquestioning trust in God so that when He opened the car door, I’d just hop in without asking Him a thousand questions or more.
They know my voice
No matter what other noise is going on, they recognize that it’s me calling them. And they usually come (in that way we’re similar–I don’t always come when God calls me!).
Throughout my journey, I have at least gotten better about knowing God’s voice, but honestly, a lot of the time it’s still hard for me to tell when it’s God’s voice or my own internal thoughts, especially when it’s something I really want to be true.
They turn to me when they are afraid
Whether it’s loud noises, the vet, or a leaf blowing down the street, my dogs huddle in closer to me when something scares them. I like providing that safety for them.
I’ve gotten pretty good at turning to God when fear rises up in me. I find comfort in handing my problems over to Jesus. I just need to keep myself from grabbing them back out of His hands a few moments later…
Another important part of my journey has been learning to turn to God at other times, too, not just when I feel like I need Him. In reality, I need Him all the time, it just took me a long time to learn that. But anyway, it’s not really a relationship if the only time you turn to someone is when you need something from them. That includes God, and He wants nothing more than to have a real relationship with each of us.
Sometimes they have no idea I am working for their good
If I go to the store to get them treats, a toy, or a new leash, all they know is I disappeared. They don’t know where I’ve gone or why, just that I’m not there giving them what they want. They are thrilled when I return, and even happier when it turns out I got something for them.
How easy it is for me to forget that God is always working for my good, even when I can see it.
Sometimes they think I am hurting them, when in fact I am helping them
I try to explain to my furry friends that the shot the vet is giving them is to protect their health, but they never get it. They just look at me with their sad puppy-dog eyes, asking me how I could do this to them.
How many times have I asked God how He could do this to me, or let it happen to me, only to look back sometime later to realize how much better things are because of what happened? Although it’s never fun to endure difficult times, God can use those times to help us grow, to make us stronger, or to bring us closer to Him.
They have no idea how I provide for them, they just know I do
Whenever I feed them, I picture them wondering, Wow, you must be a great hunter! How did you catch this so quickly? And this shelter we live in–how in the world did you dig it to be like this? I’ve tried (several times) in the backyard, but it never comes out like this!
There are some ways in which I know how God provides for me–He gave me the skills I use to make a living, plus a chance to get a good education and opportunities to get jobs. But of course there are many more aspects to the way God provides for me that I don’t understand. How was I born into the family that helped shape me into who I am and who paid for my upbringing and education? How did He orchestrate things so I would meet and marry the love of my life? Or get the jobs I’ve had? How did He knit me together in my mother’s womb?
His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts than my thoughts. You know how a dog tilts his head back and forth when he’s trying to figure something out? That’s me right now as I ponder these things.
They are thankful for the smallest things
Give them a biscuit or a pat on the head and you get rewarded with a wagging tail. Take them for a walk and you have a friend for life.
A thankful posture for God’s goodness is the best way to enter into His presence. And our lives get a whole lot better the moment we take time throughout our days to thank God for the thousand little blessings He packs into each day.
I have to clean up their messes, and they keep making them
Sometimes they can’t help it, but other times they can. Either way, they are basically incapable of cleaning up after themselves, so I have to do it. Sometimes I wish they wouldn’t make messes, but I still love them when they do, and I’ll keep on cleaning up after them.
How many times have I made a mess (whether I realized it or not), then prayer feverishly for God to clean it up?
When they do something wrong, they know I still love them
You can tell they feel bad, like they’ve let you down, and they want to make it up to you. They nuzzle your hand until you pet them so they know you forgive them. It doesn’t look like it ever occurs to them that you don’t love them any more just because you scolded them.
How many times have we turned our backs on God when we are the ones who screwed up? We feel unworthy–“I’ve done too many bad things.” Why is it that we don’t realize that the grace God shows us is infinitely greater than that which we show our naughty dog?
They love me unconditionally
I love the love my dogs show me. When I get home, they wag their whole body in excitement. I had one dog who would piddle all over the place, she was so excited when I got home. They love to be with me, so they follow me around. They love it when I pet them and tell them they’re a good dog.
Do I love God as much as my dogs love me? If I do (and I hope I do), do I show it as well as my dogs do? Well, maybe it wouldn’t be good to piddle all over the place, but it would be good to show my excitement in other ways…
So that’s it. How about you? What have you learned from your pets that makes you think of your relationship with God?