Her name is Lucy. If you just saw a photo, you would think she is the most adorable dog ever. If you have ever been to my house…you know better. She “nibbles” on new people which often makes new people feel violated. She steals food off of the counter when you are not looking. She pulls toilet paper from trash cans or off the roll itself and then shreds it all over the house. She makes daily rounds in the girls’ rooms to scavenge any empty food container that she then quickly demolishes. This could be a chip bag or a plastic container. Did I mention that she is a lab? Did I mention that she does all this right in front of me? She will literally go find a snack container and bring it to me and lay down in front of me to destroy it.
At least she is open about her sin.
If these were not endearing enough to warrant a trip to the shelter, her pinnacle offense happens while she is on “guard duty.” She has free range of the house while we are gone and you can hear her barking as soon as we get out of the car. Good dog. But when you come around the corner of our house and look in the window, you see that the barking dog is actually laying on our bed. Laying. On our bed. Barking.
When she sees it is us, she STAYS on the bed and continues to bark until she sees we are at the door. Finally she rouses from her comfort zone to greet us.
Why has she not made a trip to the shelter? Because we love her. She rolls over to have her belly rubbed much like our three cats do. She and Chuck have an evening ritual of playing catch that is therapeutic for both of them. She lays on my foot by the fire and looks at me with those soulful brown eyes full of love and affection. We still have high hopes that one day she will be a great dog, so we suffer through the learning process and keep working with her. Because we love her.
And, she stays because she is a great object lesson that God uses to teach me about myself.
Chuck and I came in the other night grumbling about her barking at us from our own bed. Chuck fussed at her saying, “Whose bed do you think that is? Who do you think you are barking at? My DOG. Barking at ME. From MY bed!!”
I threw out a what I thought was a casual comment from the other room.
“It’s okay, she just looks a lot like how we bark at God sometimes.” There was a long silent pause and then both Chuck and I took deep breaths. There is was. Truth.
I sometimes lay on the bed of relationship that God has provided, in the warm house and life that He’s graciously given. I have an assignment from Him to do, but I often don’t want to be moved out of my comfort zone enough to really do it. To add insult to injury, I sometimes won’t even get up and give God the respect He is due, but instead I bark out commands and concerns, rather than greet him with appreciation and affection.
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
Why has God not given up on me, you or us? He loves us. He endures our indignant behavior and attitudes, our lackluster praise, even our flat out sin, because He believes in us. Completely. He loves us. Absolutely. He is confident, no more than confident, He is giddy, crazy sure that He will be able to transform our hearts so that we will be the light of the world. His love is that strong.
When I see God’s persevering heart, it makes me love Him more. It makes me want to be a better dog, er, make that a better daughter. One day, both me and Lucy will get this whole attitude of gratitude thing down. Everything good thing we have is a gift. Not a right, entitlement, or obligation. It’s a gift from our good, good Father who uses a dog to love me into action.
Thanks to Lucy, I’m going to try a little more praise and a little less bark.