Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 25, 2011

The Story of Three Dogs

Presently, we have three dogs at our home. Snickers, our newest canine, is about 2-1/2 years old, is a husky-retriever mix, and weighs close to 50 pounds. Jasmine is a miniature pinscher-chihuahua mix, is about 10 years old and weighs 10-12 pounds. Both Snickers and Jasmine are not really our dogs. They are our granddogs which we are keeping for a period because of extenuating circumstances. In other words, we’re raising our granddogs!

And then there’s sweet old Dixie. No one really knows how old Dixie is or her breed mix. She probably weighs around 25 pounds and is just one of those sweet old dogs that you can just always remember hanging around. We inherited dear Dixie when Sam’s Dad passed awayabout 5-1/2 years ago. He had acquired her from an animal shelter years before. She was already grown at that time and he was told that she had lived previously in an abusive situation. We were worried when we brought Dixie home as to whether she would be able to adjust to a new home at her age, but we never had to worry. She jumped out of the van, trotted around the backyard, and quickly claimed it as her own.

Snickers, the youngest of the three, is also the largest. She is full of life and energy, running, barking, chasing squirrels, birds, moles, and anything else she discovers in the yard. But she’s also a gentle giant who will curl up on the ottoman beside my feet and sleep contentedly. Jasmine is the self-appointed indoor security patrol. She is the sweetest little dog in the world, but no one ever gets to see that part of her disposition because she has to protect her family from everything and everybody. Jasmine and Snickers co-exist. As much as Snickers would love to play with Jasmine, Jasmine has no intentions of getting off her cushion on the couch to chase a ball or toy around the house. But, for the most part, they’ve learned to get along. Although Snickers spends a majority of time outdoors, both she and Jasmine were raised indoors and go in and out at will. Dixie, however, is a totally outside dog. Once right after she came to live with us, she eagerly followed me into the house and then froze like she didn’t know what to do. She was happy to be escorted safely back outside.

All three of these sweet dogs are as different as night and day. They differ by breed, size, temperament, and age. Two can curl up on a couch perfectly content, while one prefers a doghouse outside or a scrap of carpet in an outside building. In spite of their differences, however, they have learned to live together and get along. The only competition among them seems to be for attention or dog treats. As I’ve watched these dogs grow separately, yet together, I’ve found myself wondering: How can dogs do instinctively what human beings, created in God’s image, have so much trouble doing?

For one thing, I think the way we act toward others says a lot about what we think about God. You see, all three of our dogs are crazy over my husband. If he’s outside, Snickers and Dixie are on his heels or nearby in the yard. If he’s inside in his recliner, Jasmine is curled up at his feet. They all three know him. They know he loves them and treats them well. Over time they have learned that they can trust him to love them and take care of them so there’s no need to fight or compete. They know their master.

Do we know our Master? What do we believe about God? Do we really believe that we can trust Him with every detail of our lives? Paul asked the Romans: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:31-35) This passage assures us that God is there for us. The God who gave His only Son to secure our salvation will also take care of our needs, defend us from our accusers, and intercede for us whatever our struggle. There is absolutely nothing that can separate us from His presence and love. What confidence and peace this knowledge of our Master can bring to our lives. Furthermore, it can affect the way we relate to others as God works in and through us.

In addition, the way we act toward others says a lot about what we think about ourselves. As I mentioned, Jasmine is the chief protector. She guards the front door, her food, and the people she loves. She’s a small dog who probably thinks the only way she can hold her own is to show her teeth and make a lot of noise. As uncomfortable as it may be to admit, sometimes our reactions to others can be a lot like Jasmine. We know our insecurities and our fears, our likes and our dislikes, and we approach others ready to either defend them or promote them. As a result, we may become proud and boastful trying to hide our own insecurities. Or we may put other people down in an effort to make ourselves look more important. Yet God’s Word reminds us that He made each of us fearfully and wonderfully (see Psalm 139:14). Each individual is handcrafted by a loving God for a specific purpose on this earth. When we allow this truth to permeate our hearts and lives, we realize that there is no need to defend or promote who we are, or attack and tear down someone else. Malachi 2:10 states: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?” (Malachi 2:10) Jesus instructed His disciples: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28). When we are content with the person that God created us to be, we are free to see behind the pretenses of others and truly love and pray for them – even those with whom we disagree.

Jesus taught His followers to “love one another as I have loved you” (see John 13:34). No longer were they expected to just love their neighbor as their self, they were supposed to love others as Jesus loved them. This raises the bar considerably. Jesus loved us and died for us even while we were still in our sin. Too often, we want to withhold our love based on someone’s performance or belief. We do not have to agree with someone in order to love them. It is not our place to pass judgment, but it is our responsibility to show the love of Christ to all people we meet.

In their own strange dog ways, our three dogs have come to tolerate and accept each other in spite of their differences. I’ve seen Snickers run around the backyard looking for Dixie and I’ve even observed Snickers and Jasmine lying together on the same couch (on opposite ends, that is). When three very different dogs can learn to get along and live peacefully together, can we, the children of the living God, do any less? It kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?

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