I was created to be a pet owner. I love dogs! I’ll talk to and pet any dog that doesn’t look like it will eat me alive. I love the profound joy and peace that comes from the simple act of petting a dog or playing with a dog. I am grateful every day that God has blessed my life with two amazing dogs: Missy – 1987-2003 and Chico – 2007-2014.
And I realize every day that I remember these two sweet creatures how God taught me a lot about Himself through them.
What my dogs taught me about God:
- God is a God of unfailing love. Chico was my little three pound carry around in one hand baby. I loved his portability factor! He had so many wonderful facial expressions that we always knew what he was thinking. The funniest one was his “oh no” expression when he realized he was about to get a bath, a haircut, or a nail trimming. Sure, he went along graciously (after, of course, the required show of fight) and without whining … mostly because he didn’t realize it was coming and somewhat because we could easily position his small frame. And after these episodes, I always expected him to go hide under a bed or not come near me for a day. But Chico continually surprised me. He would still be wet from his bath, knowing I had perpetrated this great crime upon his stinky self, and he would come running to whatever door I was walking through. He followed me willingly and without hesitation, even knowing I could commit another “crime” against him. And it humbled me to think this creature loves me even though he doesn’t understand what I did was for his benefit. He was still willing to follow me and be near me, even though I had radically and unrighteously invaded his personal space.
And in those moments I realized how deep and wide and unfailing is God’s love for me. That no matter how many times I denyed Him or failed to defend His name or didn’t spend time with Him or disobeyed Him, He still loved me. He still wanted to be in relationship with me. He was still true to His promise to never leave me or forsake me. He does pursue us with an everlasting and fully merciful love. He’ll take what time and energy and effort we will give Him while always desiring more.
How many people in your life can you say love you unconditionally? How many people would you bet would die a horrific death for your soul’s salvation? God does love us unconditionally, and He proved it by sacrificing His Son on Calvary’s cross. And He reminds us daily in a million little, probably unseen ways, that He loves us and is waiting for us to draw near. Will you be like my sweet Chico and follow Him?
- God will always find us. Missy hated baths, so much so we couldn’t say the word without her running to hide. Her favorite spot was under my parents’ bed. We used to have to chase or chide her out of hiding to give her something that would benefit her being. Did she understand this? No. Did she appreciate it? No. Did she know we were eventually going to find her? Of course. But it was in her nature to avoid the bad situation for as long as she possibly could.
Don’t we do the same thing? Don’t we try to hide our messiness and brokenness from God? Don’t we try to deny the lies we tell, the mistakes we make, and the hurts we inflict? What we try to forget is that God knows all and sees all. He knew you were going to hurt your parents/friend/spouse/coworker long before you were ever born. He knew every mistake you were going to make and every lie you were going to tell. He also knew every way you’d use and every place you’d go to hide it. But He also knew that eventually, when you realized His way was better or the burden became too much to bear, that you would turn to Him – and He would be there waiting with open arms.
He will always be waiting for us with forgiveness and grace. He wants to cover our sins and heal our hurts. He wants to be our God, and He’s already made a way for you to find Him. Will you stop being like my sweet Missy and come out of hiding to meet (with) Him today?
- God is all about quality time. One of the most engaging things about a dog is his/her tail. There is nothing sweeter than coming home from a long day at work to be met by a happy tongue and a wagging tail. And why is that? Because you know that dog is excited to see you and spend whatever time you can with him/her. That dog loves to be near you, around you, or on you. If that can touch you, his/her life is fulfilled in that moment. They don’t ask for much, just a little scratching, a little playing, a little affection. They just want a little quality time.
And so does God. Do you realize that God waits for you each day to come to Him? Do you know that God loves to communicate with you? He enjoys when we spend time with Him and include Him in our lives. There is no decision too big or small, no emotion too out of control for Him. He wants to be part of our minute-by-minute, day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year existence. He wants our every breath to include a sweet prayer of thankfulness to Him, whether we realize it or not. He wants our joy to come from not only knowing Him but to being with Him. He longs to be our Abba Father who guides us, protects us, encourages us, equips us, nourishes us, loves us, and guides us. And He accomplishes this to such a greater degree when we spend time with Him.
I loved that Chico used to frantically run for the door to follow me. It became a running family joke that he had to take a nap with each person during the day so he could sleep at night. And that was OK. That was how he got his quality time with us, and we were happy to share our spaces with him. I used to smile looking over at him sleeping peacefully next to me, no care or concerns. He knew he was safe and loved, and he content in the knowledge that I was close by. It was our quality time, and I miss his company.
Will you allow time in your schedule to spend with God? He’s not looking for fancy words or big gestures. So what does He want? You. Time with you. Alone. Focused. Undistracted. Psalm 51:17 says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” Spend time with Him and give Him your praises and your messes. Let Him multiple your praises and allow Him to turn your messes into ministry (a story to share about how amazing He is). Are you willing to spend time with Him? Are you willing to give Him all that you are?
I am grateful every day that I have parents who allowed us to have a dog. Yes, they are a huge responsibility. But the blessings and joy so far outweigh the cost that they are uncalculatable (at least in my world).
If you are an animal lover, then you’ll know what I’m saying is true. Maybe, like me, you’re sitting here with tears streaming down your face as you realize how amazing it is that He can remind you of His love through your pet.
If you aren’t an animal lover, God bless you. There are still a million opportunties for you to see and God to show you His love. Look for the smile on a stranger’s face. Pay attention to the magnificent colors in the sky. Stop and smell one of the flowers He has sprinkled everywhere in so many pretty colors. Find the simple joys in life, and there you will find the grace of God on your life for that moment (or day).
But there is nothing like a pet to remind us – mainly me, at the very least – of how good and gracious and amazing He truly is. I almost think a dog is the closest thing this side of heaven to being with God in person. As I think back to my time with my sweet babies, I can almost hear God whispering “as much as they loved you, realize how much more I love you.” And I do. And I am grateful.
Thank you, God, for our pets. Thank you for the opportunity to love and to be loved. And thank you for all the little reminders of how good you are through shining eyes and wagging tails.