Sunday, January 4, 2009

Loving Dogs and Loving Jesus

It’s no secret that I am obsessed with my dog. If this is any indication of how I will feel about my children, watch out.

My views on dogs were further solidified a few days ago when I watched “Marley and Me” at the theater. If you know anything about me, you know that movies are not my thing. Maybe I have ADD or something, but I just have never enjoyed watching movies. If I do choose to watch a movie, I only like comedies and kid movies because I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would CHOOSE or even PAY to feel sad, scared, or depressed. Anyway, I haven’t been to a theater in about two years, but the family decided to go see “Marley and Me”. I was immediately suspicious – sure, it looked funny in the commercials, but I know that story, and I know the dog dies. Thinking about dogs dying is really upsetting to me. I can’t deal. Brent assured me that it would be funny. Not so much. I bawled my eyes out for about 45 minutes of the movie and even gave myself a headache from crying so much after the movie. It was super sad. You’ve been warned.

Anyway – although it was sad, the movie was a beautiful picture of how wonderful dogs are and how rich they can make our lives. I cannot adequately describe how much I love Blazer. Blazer makes me a happier, calmer person. I’ve come to the conclusion that anyone would be crazy to not want a dog. If you get the right kind for you, what’s NOT to love? The more I think about why I love Blazer so much, the more I think that loving a dog is a picture of loving Jesus and His love for us. Here’s why:

Dogs have ultimate trust in their masters.
When we tell Blazer we’re going somewhere, his reactions say: “Please take me and please let’s go right now!!” He follows us wherever we decide to take him. He loves some places we take him like Grammy’s, the park, and PetSmart to name a few. But he also does NOT like some of the places we take him like the groomer and the vet. But he goes anyway, and he trusts that we will not take him somewhere that would hurt him. And when we go to pick him up from one of those places he dislikes, he’s so happy to see us again. When we take a walk, we put Blazer on a leash just like any dog owner. We have to be in charge of Blazer so he doesn’t run in the middle of the street because he doesn’t know any better. So he submits and follows us. I’m wondering: are we not the dog and God the master? If God let us go wherever we wanted, wouldn’t we probably run in the middle of the street and hurt ourselves? God’s direction protects us. Maybe we like where he’s taking us, and maybe we don’t, but he’s in charge. Like Blazer, we should not only follow, but be excited about it.

Dogs love unconditionally.
Although I love Blazer a ton, I’m not always the world’s best owner. For example, I have to go to work for about 10 hours each day, and Blazer has to be blocked up in our guest bathroom. I’m sure he gets pretty annoyed by that. But he never holds it against me. When I get home, he is beside himself with excitement and he wants to press against me and lick my face for about ten minutes. He loves me no matter what. He is always glad to see me, always hates to leave me, and wakes up every day loving me just as much as yesterday. Even if I scold him, he loves me immediately after. Are there any people who can really love like a dog? Who can forget faults within seconds and have a constant love that never wavers? I know I don’t have that kind of love very often at all. But I think that is a picture of God’s love for us.

Dogs know how to rest.
According to my calculations, Blazer sleeps about 18 hours a day. He is unfettered by to-do lists, worries, goals to be efficient, and guilt from napping. Oh no – sleeping and resting come easy to him! Now I’m not advocating that Christians sleep 18 hours a day (although it might be nice), but can we learn something from dogs about how to let go? How to free our mind and relax? I constantly struggle to believe Matthew 11:29-30: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Dogs are easy to forgive.
Blazer is mostly perfect, but he does have his moments. Take, for example, the two times I have come home from work to find Blazer standing in a giant pile of wood chips in his bathroom. (One such time is pictured above.) He had decided to throw a fit for being left all day, and then tried to eat the door one bite at a time. Or maybe the many times when Brent and I suddenly realize we haven’t seen Blazer in a while. That usually means that he’s destroyed an entire roll of toilet paper and decorated our bathroom with the remnants. When this happens, I’m pretty annoyed, because I’m going to have to clean up that mess and pick the splinters out of his mouth. But, I can NOT scold him with a straight face! I seriously laugh in the middle of saying, “NO! Bad dog!” Then I always pick him up for hugs and kisses and tell him I’m sorry and he’s a good dog. I love him so much that I don’t like to be mad at him. He’s so easy to forgive! I wonder if that’s how God feels when he forgives me a million times a day. I can’t fathom that kind of love, but I think I see a small picture of it in my love for Blazer. Even when I do something really terrible, God is not only willing, but eager to forgive me, and it’s not hard for him. It makes him happy.

Dogs live in the moment.
Blazer really loves his Grammy Lemmon and Grammy Norwood. They are seriously two of his favorite people ever. When we know that Blazer will see one of his Grammys in, say, a week, we start getting him hyped up a good three days before. We’ll say things like “Blazer – do you want to see GRAMMY?” Of course Blazer has no sense of time so when we say that, he doesn’t understand that he’s going to see Grammy in a few days. Instead, he runs to the door because Grammy must be here right this very second. Sometimes I think this is more of what we should be like as Christians. Dogs don’t think about the past or fret about the future. They live in the NOW. Isn’t this a good picture of Philippians 3:13-14? Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Or maybe Matthew 6:27: Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

So if you have a dog (and you should), go give (and get) a hug right now. Maybe loving your dog can bring you closer to God.



Nicki and Mathis said...

I came across your blog through penny lane, and I have to say that I absolutely love this post! I feel exactly the same way about my dogs, and I think the illustrations you draw about God's love is beautiful!

AmberKoren said...

We also saw Marley and Me, being a yellow lab owner- I have to say it pulled so hard at my heart. I balled like a freaking baby, I was sobbing so hard and the funny part- so was my husband!

Love your bathroom painting! Totally neato!!!

Kate and Zach said...

Hi Katie! I stumbled on your blog via Tiffany's and I have to say it is a joy to read! I share all of your sentiments about dogs (and movies for that matter- AMEN sister!) and found your metaphors of God's love just beautiful! Thanks so much for that post! ~Kate (Robertson) Gavos

Site Design by Designer Blogs