Among the myriad ways to procure an education, being taught by my dog was rather unexpected, if not mind blowing. Okay, maybe she is more the vehicle through which God was to portray spiritual truths, confirming my understanding of His word. And also draw striking parallels between my relationship with Him, and my love affair with an adorable, furry canine we call Gracie.
Out of the starting gate, by all appearances, it was a day no different from others. Gracie, a Morky, stood in the kitchen on hind legs doing her usual pirouette that says, “Feed me daddy!”
“Wait till Daddy stirs peanut butter into his oatmeal. Don’t be so impatient young lady!”
After preparing my own breakfast of coffee and jazzed up oatmeal, and then preparing Gracie’s mix of long grain rice, tuna fish and broccoli, it was time for the next phase of our routine: An early morning tryst with the Lord, my first love. My attention-demanding companion sits quietly until it becomes apparent my special time with Jesus is finished.
The daily devotional I sometimes begin with addressed obedience, citing the old favorite hymn, “Trust and Obey.” The gist of the message revealed that this is the only way to true happiness.
Prayer ensued. “Lord help me to see the areas in which I need to trust you more. Show me my own heart clearly—anything I need to change. I want to be obedient in all things.”
As the Spirit brought to mind yesterday’s foibles of faith, I sought forgiveness. And then I asked, “Lord, why do I still do such dumb stuff at times? It seems like I forget you for two seconds and wind up responding to someone with the wrong attitude and words. Why can’t I be more faithful?”
Before reaching for the bible, I glanced down at Gracie, who as expected was staring intently at my face, waiting patiently for her cue. At which time she will look like a tiny, flying Willenda trapeze artist leaping into my lap for a morning love fest.
The incredible thought burst upon me: Perhaps Gracie is more obedient to me, than I am to God. At least when I’m in the room. “Aha!” (A light came on.)
In my presence Gracie is a little angel, most always obedient and doing just as I desire. But in my absence she likes to try digging a hole through a stuffed chair, or scratch her sides along the front of the couch, rubbing her fur off, requiring an extra vacuuming of the sofa and carpet. If you’re a pet owner then you’ll be familiar with the plethora of creative ways they can get into trouble, and Gracie is no exception there. But she wants to please me, just as I want to please the Lord, and whenever I’m around she does exactly as I want her to do.
But God is Spirit. He’s always present with me. His Holy Spirit lives inside us, and Jesus promised to never leave or forsake us. Not to mention His angelic army, who watch over those belonging to Him. Sooo, I thought...
“If I always bear in the forefront of my thoughts that God is with me, I should be able to become more obedient to Him.”
The following day, a Minister friend posted on a fellowship site an article titled, “Practicing the Presence of God”. It was as if God had directed him to write it just for me. That’s exactly what I needed to do: Practice God’s presence. Doing so, has been a tremendous blessing. And God used that ten pounds of cuteness to teach me how to remain conscious of His presence with me. In fact, the Lord has utilized little Gracie in this way on several occasions.
Another aspect of the lesson that day was trusting God completely in every circumstance and situation. Does our little Maltese-Yorkie trust me? Yes she does, however, she can be forgetful too. Gracie doesn’t understand why she’s not allowed to do some things. There is no way to explain to her the dangers of snarling at pit bulls (she thinks she’s ten feet tall). She just needs to trust me on that, the way I need to trust God about things only He can understand.
Things like, “Don’t mess around with astrology.” But reading our horoscope looks like harmless fun, right? Yet, after studying the ancient Idols and false religions the Old Testament mentions, and then learning more about the enemy’s strategies, I now understand the danger. It opens an unseen spiritual door to evil. It is very real! Too bad Gracie is not capable of comprehending things on a deeper level. She’ll just have to trust me, the same way I need to trust God on the issues I don’t yet understand.
I need Gracie to trust and obey me, so I can keep her safe and happy. God needs the same from me and for the same reasons.
I still love that old hymn. “Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Now if I could just need teach Gracie that song…