So it is only fitting my dogs help me to understand God’s unmerited favor, grace and patience in our lives each day.
Dogs implicitly understand Unmerited favor but it is a little harder for us two-legged creatures, who think we automatically deserve everything.
I recently started listening to online sermons from a powerful charismatic pastor called Joseph Prince. A self-professed grace addict and hardcore Christ lover, he challenges his readers to conceptualize, “Even if you lack the necessary qualifications, (God’s) unmerited favor can propel you forward.”
Well, every time I take care of my dogs, I realize they lack the necessary qualifications to make it in this world on their own.
If I didn’t feed them, I cannot imagine them hunting and killing anything on their own. Heck, my Bichon-poodle mix has trained me on which specific brand of greenies she prefers and she does not like getting her dainty white feet muddy.
It is through my unmerited favor and love for my two dogs that I feed them, house them and make sure they don’t get lost as we travel around the U.S.
God does the same for us, and our relationship with him works so much better when we do not fight him tooth and nail to maintain our sense of “freedom” – to do things our way.
However, this is a hard lesson to learn for both man and beast.
Even if we do fuss with Him though, He still cuts us humans like ten gazillion Grace breaks, which is good.
We need them. Just open the Bible. You cannot go a chapter without reading about his Grace for humanity somewhere in it. He did a lot of smiting but he also gave a lot of great gifts to our forefathers for no reason other than he loved his creation.
The New Living Translation says it like this:
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:23).”
My eldest doggie baby and I have developed a sort of shorthand to communicate with each other. Most days, I know what she wants by following her eye movements. She often desires to be lifted onto the bed for its prime view of the campground out the window.
She has trained me to open the shade a quarter of the way up. If the blinds are opened anymore than that too much sunlight streams in and she quints until I lower them. She is not spoiled, is she?
I pay attention to the tiny details of her body language because I love her. Yet, she does not rest easy in that knowledge.
Every single day I pick her up and gently deposit her on the bed, but literally every single time she struggles with me. My husband and I are constantly telling her, “We do not need your help (in this lifting process).” But she never listens.
During these rides to her perch, she has launched herself off my stomach, arms and legs, and often scratches me leaving marks for days. Even though she knows I am a good doggie owner, somehow she cannot resist flailing around in a panic, each time. At least once a month, her erratic break dancing routine catches me off guard just enough that she cold cocks me in the jaw with her head.
I am not too happy when that happens, and I normally loose my patience with her but then I remind myself she is just a dog. She is just doing what dogs do.
I often wonder, is this how God feels?
Is he upstairs right now saying, “Goodness child, you are just so stubborn! Can you PLEASE just rest easy in my arms for once as I unfold this plan that will benefit you…a plan that will lead you to higher ground with a good view!”
However, patience is a virtue easily forgotten in my roving home on wheels.
You see I believe dogs are way more patient than humans.
Check out this picture of my youngest dog Oscar, who is suffering from a bad hair cut from moi.
Although it is a blurry phone pic (because really have you ever tried to capture a dog’s portrait? They always move!), his receding hairline is not natural to his breed (Maltese). However, his mommy is not so good at puppy haircuts.
My husband says I traumatized him with his new hairdo and I “have caused him to have nightmares” about sharp and shiny objects coming his way.
You know what, he loves me anyway. He is patient with me, even if I do not come home when he wants or I don’t feed him exactly on time.
Dogs are incredibly patient because their hearts are like 10 times bigger than their bodies.
Sadly, I am not this patient with my Creator.
When I do not get what I want on the schedule I want it, I tell God I am mad at him. Maybe not in those exact words but in my actions I express my lack of faith in his goodness towards me. I do not think I am alone in this?
When we are all by ourselves, I suspect we all shout at him, “Why not God?!!!!!!
“Why haven’t you dropped a high-paying job into my lap? A promotion? A child, or two, or three? Why cannot I have a new car? New house? New clothes? Rich and generous friends who own a home on a tropical island? A father, mother, boyfriend, wife…who appreciates me?”
We beg and plead with him, “I have been good! I work hard! Dang it %#@*, I deserve it! Why? Why!”
Dogs don’t do that. They aren’t beyond grovelling as well, but they patiently wait on their humans.
This brings me to my fourth and final thing that dogs can teach us.
Tenacity reigns supreme in the doggie realm.
Just try to hide something from your dog and tell them no they cannot have it. You might forget you hide “X” object but they won’t until they find it, retrieve it and digest it.
My husband and I visited our family in Delaware this weekend, and we immensely enjoyed our play time with our grand-puppy Mila. She is 33 pounds of wiggling, hyper-active joy.
Mila is a pit bull who doesn’t know she is supposed to be ferocious.
I have to admit I was a little leery of this breed until I played with her. But she totally disarms you with her charm and her tenacity to the 10th degree.
First of all, my 7-pound Maltese ruled the house as soon as he walked through the door, as he always does. This is not a good thing.
Although Mila was a little upset at his mean attitude, she never stopped trying to be friends.
Instead, she flopped down on the ground, played the subservient type and showed off her belly. You see in her house, she is the new kid on the block. The senior dog in the house Bo is not too happy with this young pup nipping at his heels. So he viciously barks at her. I wouldn’t go near him if I were her. His snapping scares me, and I know he is a gentle dog.
What does Mila do?
She literally sticks her head inside his mouth while he is barking at her. She just wants to be loved by everyone, and she won’t quit until she has you wrapped around her little paws.
Now, this isn’t the brightest move in the animal kingdom but it is notable that he does not bite her.
I admire her approach, and I know I need to incorporate her pig-headed determinance into my daily faith walk as a Christian and in my encounters with unfriendly human types.
Since I only accepted Christ into my life at the age of 36, I spent a lot of time distrusting Him. I mean you cannot even see God but you are supposed to depend on him and worship him.
The other day I was driving behind a van with a license plate that read, “Good Gd.” I thought that was neat analogy of how this invisible God works because despite the fact the “O” was missing (I suspect due to space limitations) I still knew it spelled out God.
My point is even though we cannot pin God down with our five senses, it does not mean he is not working in this world for our good. He is still here with us!
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us God has plans to prosper us and not harm us. Taking care of my four-legged companions each day helps me tangibly conceptualize that He is my eternal Caregiver, and He is a good God!
And for that I am forever grateful to my furry friends!
“Bow wow” until next time,
Melissa and CR
Melissa and CR LeGates are two God-fearing sinners who love travelling the highways together in their 25-foot Winnebago Itasca Navion IQ RV with their four-legged furry angels by their side. Come along on our journey as we see what adventures God has in store for us!