The Westminster Dog Show is on television over the next two nights and that inspired me to write another column about some spiritual lessons we can learn from dogs.
For example: As I arrived home today after a short 15 minute grocery trip, my Lhasa Apso excitedly greeted me at the door with her tail wagging and an exuberant, “where have you been? I’ve missed you!” It was as if I had been gone for months!
On the other hand, my Cocker spaniel was stretched out on the couch, snoring away, oblivious to his surroundings. After awhile, he raised his head nonchalantly, as if to note, “Oh you’re home.” He then got up, pranced over to his bowl which he nudged forcefully, indicating he wanted water . . . and he wanted water now.
Which brings me to spiritual concepts. Do we greet our Heavenly Master in our Bible’s doorway with the same adoring exuberance, or are we more demanding in His presence? Do we consider devotions and Bible study a happy occasion or a chore? Do we spend much quality time simply praising our Lord for his goodness and mercy, or do we immediately present a list of demands: “Well Lord, the dishwasher isn’t working and Aunt Jenny’s ill again and oh by the way, can you help me find a new job because my boss is unbearable?”
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” Psalm 19:14 (ESV)
God isn’t a vending machine. Why can’t we respect and stop treating Him as one?
Another important principle I’ve noticed: dogs harbor no grudges after being disciplined. I try to train my dogs to not bark when strangers wander down the walkway behind our home. But occasionally they do. They have learned if they start barking, it means no more bird chasing – immediate exile inside. Dogs however, can be scolded and then a few minutes later can be bouncing around, ready to play fetch inside. They learn to be content in any circumstance. (Philippians 4: 11-13)
We should learn to bounce back like that, shouldn’t we? God, being slow to anger, doesn’t wish to discipline us but occasionally it is necessary. Accepting discipline is personally challenging. It’s easy to harbor resentment. We must never hold a grudge but recognize that since God desires only good for us, sometimes discipline is what will bring us back to the straight and narrow. It’s for our own good.
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 (ESV)
Yes God is patient, merciful and loves us unconditionally. Psalm 145:8 states that “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” He will patiently endure much in His desire for us to come to repentance and be saved.
Dogs do not seem to have any concept of time. Therefore let us delight continually and pray without ceasing at the feet of our Master too, which is the equivalent of Christian belly rubs. Praise Him for His continual care over you. As our pets rely on us for everything, in the same way we should learn to rely on our Lord for all our needs as well. If you are a dog lover, remember the life lessons we can learn from them and enjoy the Westminster this week!