Wednesday, September 21, 2016
The Interloper, The Charging Dog, and The Clear Glimpses of God They Gave
Sam Wiley has a new dog. I'm not sure the dog doesn't belong to someone else, but it doesn't have a collar and it hasn't been neutered.
Sam had complained about being lonely, so, at dinner one night, I prayed that God would send him some company. Sam agreed with a hearty amen. I meant HUMAN company, which God knew, but it seems like He had a different idea.
A few days later, Sam came over for dinner. "I think I got me a dog."
"You bought a dog? Where did you get a dog, Sam?"
"It just come up to my house and started hanging around."
"Don't you think that's your neighbor's dog?"
"Nah. If it were, they'd have bought him a collar."
I didn't have a good argument for that theory, so I asked to see the dog. "You can't see him unless he comes around. He just comes when he wants to."
"Sam, that's not much like having a dog."
"It's enough for me."
This went on for weeks. Sam bought dog food and started leaving it out. The dog started eating it and running off. Before long, the dog gained weight, "slicked off" (Sam's term), and started hanging around Sam's house.
"That dog needs a name, Sam."
"Yeah, but I can't think of a name."
I didn't have a ready name, so we asked Ryan. He couldn't think of a name, either, so he asked his girlfriend, Hannah. "She says name him Benny."
We did. Benny learned his name pretty quick. Sam did not. Sometimes he called him Danny. Sometimes he called him Dog. It was a different name every time.
Benny didn't seem to mind. In fact, he really liked Sam and started following him to the barn. That wasn't exactly a good thing, since Benny quickly developed a love for chicken-chasing, following closely by chicken-shaking, which always leads to chicken-killing.
I'm down two more chickens. If it weren't for Sam, Benny would be banned from the farm.
Yesterday, Sam decided to spring a surprise on me.
I had come home early and was working on my computer in the kitchen. The Wonder Dogs had gone outside to sun on the patio. We were having a peaceful and very productive afternoon when Sam opened the back door and motioned for the leashes.
"You taking the dogs for a walk?"
"Yeah, but I thought I'd let them meet my dog first. I'm just gonna let them loose together and see how it works out."
"Sam, I don't think that's a good idea. Maggie's..." Before I could say another word, Maggie noticed Benny sneaking up on her and went into Ninja-dog mode. She jumped up, every hair on her back standing straight up, started barking like crazy, and charged Benny, who's at least three times her size.
He was so shocked that he stared at her for a few seconds. When he realized the crazed pint-sized Shih Tzu was about to jump on him, he turned and ran for his life. Maggie was right behind him.
Mamie was frolicking with the cat, as usual, and missed the initial exchange. When she heard Maggie bark, though, she took out to help her.
Benny ran wide-open. Maggie was only a few feet behind him, a look of utter determination in her eyes. She meant business. That interloper was leaving her territory.
I ran after them, leashes dangling from my hand. When I rounded the house, I realized there was no hope of catching the dogs. I started yelling. "STOP! STOP!"
All three dogs ignored me.
"Mamie sit." I didn't have much hope for this command, but I gave it a try.
Miracles still happen.
She was at least twenty yards ahead, but Mamie sat. I raced up to her and snapped a leash on her, then started running again. Mamie wasn't impressed with the pace, but she managed to keep up.
The sit command worked so well on Mamie that I decided to try it again. Maggie headed down the hill by the tractor shed. Only one little hillock separated her and Benny from the road. The very busy road.
She stopped, made a quarter turn, and stared at me. I stopped, pointed my finger at her and gave her the hand signal for sit. "Maggie, Sit." I stood as still as a stone and held my breath.
She completed her turn with the grace of a beauty pageant contestant in swimsuit competition, paused, and sat. As I clipped the leash on her (and rejoiced over the great obedience training school we'd attended), I saw Benny stop and look back. When he realized the chased had ended and he was safe, he loped off to Sam's house.
The Wonder Dogs and I walked back toward the house where Sam waited for us.
"I didn't expect all that," he said.
"Well, it happened so fast I couldn't warn you."
"I thought she was gonna eat my dog up."
"Maggie would wade into a pack of coyotes if they got between us. She's born to protect her human. You can't spring a strange dog on her like that and expect it to go well."
Sam grinned. He loves just about everything Maggie does. "Yeah. I see that now."
There's more than one lesson to learn from this crazy story, but the one I'm teaching is about how ferocious a little dog can be about protecting her human. That ferocity didn't just happen, and it wasn't taught in obedience school. That fierce protectiveness is a God-given trait placed in dogs like Maggie before they are born by the One who created dogs in the first place.
Scripture tells us that nature declares the glory of God. I believe that animals, clearly a part of nature, also demonstrate the truth of God to a world that's often too blind to see.
If dogs sense danger from an interloper and respond, how much more must God respond when His children encounter danger, even when that danger is self-imposed?
If dogs respond immediately, how much faster does God respond?
We do not serve a dog-sized God. We serve the God who keeps the stars in the sky and the earth rotating around the sun. He controls everything in the universe. The things we know about and the things we don't.
He's too much for us to comprehend, yet He knows us. By name.
He cares about us. Individually.
He loves us. Unconditionally.
This God loved us enough to give His only Son to pay our sin debt. Despite that terrible price, He still cares about lonely old men and prissy, silver-haired women. He still cares about little children with no shoes (this is a hint for later) and mothers who struggle to make ends meet.
He loves us.
When Maggie the Wonder Dog races around to try to save me from a danger that exists only in her mind, she reminds me of the unconditional love of a God that knows me, responds at the first instant I call, and cares about every moment of my future. And yours.
Even if the only glimpse you've had of God is from a sweet dog, please know that the glimpse you've had is not even a sliver of the full picture of our great God.
If you've known Him for years, today, stop to thank Him for His incredible love and constant care. Remember that He has a plan and He wants us to follow it. It's made in our best interest and perfectly designed for our benefit. We can trust Him and His plan.
I don't always like how God's plan proceeds, but I'm always better for it. You will be, too.
So, today, let's trust the One who uses the things of nature to show us His glory and thank Him for the glimpses He gives of His great love.
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have ben clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: When the Answer I Needed Was Already Written in the Margin