Last week, my not so little sister (she’s 28!) was telling me a story about the family dog, Abby. Abs is precious. She’s red, she’s fast, and she LOVES everyone. But Abs has a tendency to destroy things. Not on a regular basis, like the daily opening the door after work only to see that it’s snowed memory foam mattress cover bits all over your house….Abs destroys things mostly under duress. When she stresses out, things get messy. When she thinks you’ve left her and are never coming back, she shreds something. When the 4th of July comes, well…..you had better watch out. No screen door is safe.
Jewels was relaying one of the latest moments of checking in on Abby. At the peak of her story, as she was gently chiding the dog, she had one of those God epiphanies. She said that God, in his infinite wisdom, was using her teachings for the dog to teach her how much he loves her, loves us, and how we become the pup staring brokenhearted, back at our Master, awaiting the discipline that we apparently, desperately need. It goes a little something like this…
“___________ (Insert name here) why did you do this? Look at this mess. This wasn’t a great decision. I told you no because I know what’s best for you.
Dog hangs head in shame, tail wagging in hopes that its master will still love it. After all, the dog doesn’t mean to be destructive. They’re just a little, you know, insane.
“_________ (insert your name here) I love you so much! (Arms reach out) But we need to work on this. (This means discipline and diligence) Alright, let me clean this up and we’ll start again. You must listen to my instructions. I really do understand, but I also know what’s best for you. Let’s try this again, okay?
I have had similar, simpler conversations with my dog, Bailey. (The other dog is not a chewer, praise Jesus!) I’m almost convinced she understands… and just can’t seem to help herself. Last week she literally ate my phone. In 3 minutes flat. The damage was pretty impressive. Remember the comment about the memory foam mattress cover? I hadn’t even taken it out of the bag yet. Ready for what happened yesterday? Bailey—ate my undergarment, pooped in my closet, tried to eat the remote control, knocked over the dog water in her excitement about dinner coming, peed on my freshly steamed carpet (minutes before potty time), and tried to chew on my library book. My just checked out from the library yesterday afternoon, library book. I won’t even go into the disaster area my living room usually is when I come home. I have no idea where she finds the stuff, and there isn’t a bone on the planet, nylabone, beef leg, etc., that can stop her. It requires the reinforcement of discipline. Discipline with love, and teaching her not to fear me, but to respect my commands.
Dogs. (Just wait till we talk about cats. Jesus must REALLY love us.)
I understand she’s a puppy. I understand that as far as puppies go, she learns fast, she remembers quite well, and she does what I tell her….for the most part. After all, when I say “Drop it” she spits whatever is in her mouth, out. I also understand that she is destructive without malice, and that because she is undisciplined, she makes poor decisions. Sound familiar?
Each day we wake, go about our routines, and fumble through the undisciplined areas of our lives. It brings us shame…almost a “no, no, bad dog” feeling of shame when we have to face those we are accountable too. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. And learning the discipline is unpleasant. Bailey gets quarantined until we can clean up the mess and then isn’t allowed her treat (if we catch her in the act). Because I love her, I let her back in to my living space, back onto her spot on the end of the sofa, and continue to teach her that the only things she is allowed to chew on are her bones. I use the “good dog” voice when she goes potty outside and stays when I command it. I continue to teach her (hopefully with patience) no matter how much destruction she causes. Why? Because she is mine and I love her.
How much more are we to the Almighty maker of heaven and earth? We are his children! And because he loves us, he stands over us (like an umbrella or protective parent, not a towering giant of terror), corrects our wrongs, and continues to teach us what is right, all with the gentlest, truest love we’ll ever be blessed to know. Amen!
God Disciplines His Children
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty