Chirps and tweets rouse me from a half sleep. Ahh...spring. But wait. My stomach pitches as I realize it’s not birds. It’s Gracie, the puppy I swore I’d never get.
In a semi-panic (please, God, don’t let her have pooped or peed or thrown up in her crate), I fling off the comforter. Thirty pounds of cats thump to the floor and start meowing for breakfast. My head begins to pound for caffeine. Gracie’s whine accelerates to yelps and the vibrato of my husband’s snore completes the cacophony.
I stumble to the bathroom, turn on the lights and grope for my glasses. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the craziest of them all? My hair is electrified and my eyes are smeared with the mascara I was too tired to remove. I have slept in my clothes. I have also defied nature. At 61, I have a baby.
Though we’ve always had dogs, we’ve always been younger than we are now. My husband and I are retired and we travel quite a bit. Over the years we’ve lost many pets, and each time it got harder. At this point in our lives I did not want another dog, particularly a puppy. But when we had to put our last dog down, my husband’s devastated heart melted mine, and I caved.
Gone is my morning quiet time, my coveted coffee-and-Bible time. And here I am, an almost-Medicare-eligible empty nester asking, “Should we feed her now?” “Did she poop?” “What color was it?” “What consistency?” “How many times did she go?” And telling people, “She’s sleeping through the night now.”
In Matthew 14:25-31, the disciples are in a boat in the middle of a storm. They see Jesus walking on the water, think he’s a ghost and get really scared. But Jesus tells them not to be afraid, that it’s Him. At which point Peter says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come.” And Jesus says, “Come.” So Peter did, and actually started walking on the water toward Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith...why do you doubt?’”**
I don’t know about you, but I identify a lot with Peter. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said, “Okay, Lord, if this is you, then (this or that) will happen.” And this or that does happen, and I begin walking in what I believe the Lord has told me to do. But then the “wind” of circumstances surrounds me and I take my eyes off of Him and start to sink.
Our “boats” can be the routines we get stuck in, even if they involve God, ministry or prayer. But routine is not what a life with the Lord is about. It’s about a reckless faith that doesn’t doubt. A faith that knows God is always there, even when life turns upside down. But our tendency is to stay comfortable, and sometimes the only way we’ll get out of our boats is if they capsize.
My biggest issue with having Gracie has been the upset to my routine, especially my morning time with the Lord. In a May 12 devotional from My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes.”
Hmm. Is that what I’d been doing?
I’ve heard it said that “dog is God spelled backwards.” I usually don’t make much of those kinds of sayings, but maybe there’s something to this one, at least for me. Maybe instead of resenting what having this puppy has taken away, I should be thankful for what she’s given. And that is, a new perspective on where God is. That He is not just in the peaceful mornings. But He is also in the midst of frantic circle running and leash pulling, ever present to reach out His hand to help. To help me abandon my boat and realize just how amazing Grace truly is.
**Where quoted, Scripture is from the NIV. Otherwise, author paraphrases.
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