"Mom, I want a another dog," my youngest son announced. "A BIG dog."
It was a request I was willing to consider, even though ours was already a multi-pet home, even though I knew the "BIG" dog would become my "BIG" responsibility once the newness wore off. In my experience, that's been about three days tops.
Enter Jasmine. Lanky, long-legged and able to reach the kitchen counter at nine months, she's a Black Lab/Border Collie mix. Calling her spirited is like watching an approaching tornado and musing, "hmmm, it might be a little windy today."
An understatement extraordinaire.
Amid much excitement, my husband and sons ushered Jasmine into the house to meet "mom," the introduction peppered with heavy promotion.
CRATE TRAINED! GREAT WITH KIDS! LOVES CATS! WELL BEHAVED! And the big selling point...HOUSEBROKEN!!!!!!
I can't stress what an issue that last point was. The carpet throughout my house was only two months old. Need I say more?
Well, Jasmine has been with us for a while now. And yes, she's housebroken-if that means breaking my house.
She's answered nature's call in every room except one. (And I guard that precious, untreated room as though it contained the answer to all of life's mysteries.)
She's greeted me with carpet thread in her mouth-thread still attached to the carpet, requiring that I follow a raveled trail from her teeth to the point of origin, three rooms away.
Her diet has included...well, carpet, but also a bicycle helmet, a menagerie of stuffed animals, trampoline netting, 64 ounces of tropical fish food, numerous Nerf items, a sheet, and a complete hand care ensemble that included buffing crème and emollient gel.
My husband and sons act as though I'm supposed to be okay with this. After all, Jasmine is "just a baby."
I've walked with the Lord for many years. And though I still struggle to get a lot of things right, I remember when I struggled to get everything right. When Jesus interceded for me, I wonder if He ever threw that line in on my behalf.
She's a baby Christian. Just a baby.
I'm forever finding chewed-up bits of things strewn about the house-things identified as formerly G.I. Joe's head, a flip-flop, a remote control, a Fruit Roll Up. Horrified, I once came upon a deluge of black feathers in the living room...
Praise God, it was just the feather duster.
"She's teething," my husband said, cuddling this small pony in his lap. "We need to be patient."
Patience. How blessed I am that God has plenty of that.
Exasperated, I've tossed my hands in the air and said to Jasmine, "I give you praises and chew toys, treats and attention. And yet...you continue to mess up, over and over again."
I wonder, has God ever been tempted to put me up for adoption? Send me to the pound? Slap a muzzle over my mouth? Has He ever shaken His head and said, "I've given you the Bible, Christian friends, unlimited access to my throne...and still... you miss the mark."
One night, a friend stopped by to drop off a gift. It was late, after 11 pm., and my friend intended to just zip to the front door then zip back to her car.
Jasmine, seeing an open door, bolted into the night, full steam ahead and blinded by giddy freedom. It's a bulldozer...it's a marathon runner...it's Super Dog!
And there was my friend in hot pursuit...wearing only her nightgown.
Looking back at my Christian growth chart, I remember times when I darted into something that looked good. Times I got off course, ran in circles, went bounding into the night like an over-excitable pup.
God came after me. Calling my name and doing whatever it took to lead me back home. Even today, when my free will wants to be exercised, God keeps me on a leash, not letting me get too far from His voice and the path He wants me to walk.
"She wants to do good," my husband insists of Jasmine. "She really does."
I agree. Truly, discipline breaks her heart. As her amber eyes peer into mine, I'm sure of one thing. If this dog could talk-if she could quote scripture-it would be Paul's words from Romans 7:15:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
What Christian hasn't had one of those "Paul" moments?
As she matures and learns more of what's expected of her, Jasmine is finally starting to "get it." The other night, as she scampered through the house with a sponge in her mouth, I commanded, "DROP IT!"
And she did. Right into my hand.
God is holding His hand out, too. Ready to take and put away those things we do that we don't want to do.
The fact that Jasmine still resides under my roof has got some people questioning my sanity.
"Why do you keep that dog?" they ask.
"I...well...I LOVE HER."
If I, with all my humanness, short-comings and desire for clean carpet can feel this way about a dog that stole five pork chops off the table...how much more must our perfect Lord feel for the children He created in His own image?
LOVE. That explains His patience and forgiveness...not only during our "housebreaking" phase, but throughout our lives.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 38-39.
As we become more obedient, older dogs in our Christian walk, may the Spirit of the Lord lead us in our dealings with Christian pups. Remembering that we, too, might have had housebreaking issues, may we respond with the fruits of the spirit, motivated by what the Lord is faithful to show us.
"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another." (1 John 3:11).
Our newest family member is a kitten named Blackjack.
I know, I know, I AM crazy to take another animal, but how I could not? The runt of the litter, he looked like a Beanie Baby. My heart puddled and the word "no" slid right out of my vocabulary.
Now, months later, we're not sure if he's a kitten or a flying squirrel.
When his eyes dance dizzy-wild and his ears flatten against his head-just prior to slam-dunking his own tail -my husband and I have voiced the same concern:
Can kittens be possessed?
But...that's a whole other article.
(c) Donna G. Morton 2005
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