October 21, 2014

Pastoral Nuggets: The Man My Dogs Think I Am

Brother AaronMarianne and I are the owners of three Black Labs.  Now, these dogs are good for nothing – except being our babies!  However, as I have pondered the actions of these dogs, I have come to the conclusion that, as Christians, we would do well to emulate them.

The first thing I need to learn to model the way they do is: unconditional love. They love me for who I am – just as I am. These dogs have never asked me to change anything about myself so they could love me more. But do you know what? Their unconditional love for me produces change in me.

The second thing I need to learn to model the way they do is: excitement. When we turn into the driveway they get so excited that we are home they cannot contain themselves. They start jumping on the fence, each other, and running around in a hyperactive state of excitement.

As we open the car doors they stand there, tails wagging, utterly enthralled to see us. It makes no difference what hour of the day or night we get home. It makes no difference how tired we are. It makes no difference whether or not we have had a spat on the way home.  All that matters to those dogs is that the two people they love most in this world – are home.

The third thing I need to learn to model the way they do is: forgiveness. If I have to scold one of them, it is not long until they are right back with me enjoying whatever it is we are doing. No grudges. No retaliation. No getting even. They simply forgive and go on with “life in the moment.”

The fourth think I need to learn to model the way they do is: interest in another. They are, by nature, curious. If I walk out the door they come running to see what I am doing. Whatever I am doing is always more interesting to them than what they were doing.

The fifth thing I need to learn to model the way they do is: trust. They trust me completely. I have yet to see them biting their fingernails, in a full-blown swivet, fretting about whether or not I am going to meet their basic needs. They trust me completely.

As I pondered the actions of these dogs, I began to realize there are some Spiritual lessons all of us can learn from these dogs. Think of what a better world this would be if we, each of us, learned to act a little more like our dogs.

  • We would model unconditional love toward each other – loving each other just because we exist – period.

  • We would model excitement at the prospect of being with each other

  • We would model forgiveness – no matter how grievous and hurtful the infraction against us – and we would learn to forget the past and “live in the moment.” Carpe Diem: Seize the day.

  • We would model interest in the lives of others, placing their interest above our own.

  • We would learn to model trust.  In Matthew 6:33 Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In these times of financial and political insecurity we would remember Who our Security is and in Whom we have placed our trust – Jesus!

I close this column today with an observation & confession: I wish I was the husband my wife thinks I am, the father my children and grandchildren think I am, the brother my sister and brothers think I am, and the person others think I am. I am not there yet. I have not arrived. But with your prayers, your help, and the help of a few dogs in my life, God will get me there. You know, I just wish I was the man my dogs think I am!


Brother Aaron

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