He’s Eating The Porch

My mother had been outside playing with Jack.  She comes in and calmly announces, “Jack’s eating the porch.”  “I know,” I replied, equally unperturbed, and added, “Did you see the decorating that he’s doing?”  “Yes,” Mom sighs with a smile, “I guess he’s both decorating the porch and doing some landscaping with that tree stump he brought in.”  We laughed, totally understanding that these things are to be expected when training a puppy.

Today I filled in a hole that Jack dug next to the patio, lifted the lawn chair he flipped over, mopped up the water from his bowl that he stepped in, turning it over, too, and threw away the doormat that he shredded.  In spite of his antics, I’m very proud to say that he has already mastered the game of fetch, actually retrieving and bringing back the ball, and he understands the words “stay” and “sit.”

Interestingly, he seems dumbfounded with the word “no.”  Even so,  I find my love for this little dog just as strong whether he’s being obedient or being oblivious to the things I’m teaching him not to do.  I know my love for Jack is never ending, no matter what he may or may not do.

It occurred to me that if I, an imperfect human, can love my sometimes obedient and sometimes unruly dog, then I can rest in the confidence that my Heavenly Father loves me irrevocably, too.  Like Jack, we can all  learn the things that pleases our Father.  Like Jack, we can also disregard them in an instant.

Why do we humans so often do the things we know we shouldn’t?  When you make a decision that you know isn’t the right one,  do you fall into despair?  Do you get angry at yourself for failing yet again?  It’s easy for us to beat ourselves up.  We can even succumb to the erroneous thoughts that God doesn’t love us anymore.

I take grew pleasure in believing that Jack knows my mother and I love him.  He seems to already know that we will feed him, play with him, give him shelter, all the basic things he needs to live well.  How much more does our Heavenly Father take pleasure when you and I trust His love and care for us?  He feeds us, shares joy with us, gives us His own strength and courage to withstand all the world throws at us.

I love the promise in Psalm 118:1 that states emphatically, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His faithful love endures forever!”  In the New Testament, there is a verse in Romans 8:38, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”  

It’s true that human love can actually fade away.  Promises can be broken and vows dashed to pieces, but God’s love for us?  It goes on and on!   Take comfort in the truth that He won’t give up on you.  He may, like a potter with a lump of clay, hurl you upon the spinning wheel for remolding.   The hurling may not feel good and the spinning on the potter’s wheel might seem too hard, but remain steady and trusting — God’s training is for our own good, just like my training for Jack; the end product will be beautiful.

 

Watching Puppy Love

I visited some friends this evening who have a new resident in their home — a puppy!  To those of you who are dog lovers, you will fully understand the statement my friend made this evening as she held  onto an armful of squirming fur, “I just fell immediately in love.”  Yes, it was most evident indeed — that puppy was one greatly loved pooch and would be for all her days in her new home.

As I watched the continued demonstrations of love for this canine wonder, I could not help but think about God and His love for you and me.  However, too often, we grab hold of a great distortion of God’s love.  It seems, we sometimes feel that we have to earn God’s love.  We must obey Him in all things or He might not love us anymore.  Having those out of focus thoughts about the love of God can make us shrink back from Him rather than cling joyfully to Him.

But, mustn’t we obey Him?  Yes, we are instructed to obey God in all things.  Of course, no one is perfect and we all sin, but we always have before us a way of repentance that brings us immediately back into right relationship with our Heavenly Father.  When we sin, does God love us less?  No.  He loves us the same at all times.   If God loves us even when we disobey, then why do we need to be so concerned with obedience?

Questions like the above bring me back to my friend and her puppy.  She must teach her dog how to obey.  The dog is indeed learning but still has a way to go in knowing what is expected of her.  When she gets it wrong, my friend still loves her dog completely.  Even so, it’s vital that the dog learns to obey for her own protection and joy.  For example, if a car is coming, the dog must obey the command to “come.”   Ignoring this instruction could bring dire consequences.  It’s no different in our relationship to our Heavenly Father.

God doesn’t give us instructions to obey, as a way for us to keep His love; He gives us instructions to obey, to keep us safe and filled with His joy.  The words of a favorite hymn come to my mind, “For there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

God has a right path for us to follow, totally because He loves us.  The consequences of following His path will be joy, peace, wisdom, and courage to get us through all our days — or — we may choose the wrong path if we so desire, but like the puppy who refuses to “come,” we might get run over by life’s troubles, bringing unrest and absence of peace,  that could be so easily avoided.

It’s really true the words to that hymn — “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”