What My Dog Has Taught Me About God

9:38 AMHeather

Meet Murphy.





Murphy is our darling beagle mix rescue dog that we got a year ago.  That last picture is Murphy on the day he came home.  Murphy is our wonder dog for many reasons.  Our last dog had died 6 years prior to adopting Murphy.  And for years, my poor deprived children would be asked if they had a pet.  With great drama, they would say, "We had a dog.  He died.  Our mom won't let us get another one."  

Yep.  Mother of the year here.  I held out because honestly--I had enough to take care of with the three human children with whom I've been blessed.  Then, a friend warned me that if I waited too long, my children would be gone from home and I'd have this dog to take care for for years to come.  So, last fall we went to a rescue event, intent on adopting a different dog.  But, the minute they brought her to us, we KNEW she was NOT the dog for us.  We'd even prayed as a family for wisdom before left the house that morning.  And, we knew instantly that the dog we'd planned for was not to be ours.

Our hopes for Sasha dashed, I felt stuck.  I realized that I was intent on coming home with a dog that day.  And, then, Murphy turned that little sweet face to us and we all decided to take a look at him.  They brought Murphy over to us, and instantly, a child burst into tears because he just knew this was OUR dog.  The other kids agreed enthusiastically.  My husband--who grew up with beagles--gave me the puppy dog look (pun intended).  While I said I needed a minute to think about it, I'm pretty sure they knew I was a goner.  

So, we became dog owners again.  From the day we brought him home, I now realize this sweet puppy dog has been teaching me about God.  Really!  It's true.  When we brought him into the house, he immediately peed on a family heirloom chair.  Great.  Just great.  So we put him in the backyard.  Where he proceeded to dig under the fence into the neighbor's yard.  And the next day, he darted out when we opened the door, and we had a near tragedy as he darted toward the very busy traffic of the street near us.  I watched horrified, knowing that our dog was about to be killed, 24 hours after I spent all that money on him.  And my children were all going to see the gory tragedy unfold.  

At the last second, Murphy turned to stay on the sidewalk instead of running into the street, and Chris was able to grab him in a giant leap fueled by adrenaline.   Whew.  Tragedy avoided.  But, the truth was, we weren't sure about Murphy at first.  Or rather, I wasn't.  He marked his territory all over my carpet.  He howled and barked at night as we crated him.  Not to mention that I felt I had to watch him like a hawk lest he escape.  Or have an accident.

In hindsight, here's what I've learned.  Murphy didn't know us.  Plain and simple.  He wasn't familiar with us.  He hadn't spent enough time with us.  And, so, he continued to make his own trouble really.  News flash.  Aren't we just like that with God?  We don't spend enough time with Him.  And, some major change in our lives happen and we can't sort it out.  Hopefully, we don't respond by peeing on someone's chair.  But, we do run.  We do howl and yelp and bark.  We do try to escape.  And, we are often running from God or at best, choosing to keep our distance.  We act out in all sorts of ways.  All the while, we have a Master whose greatest concern is us.

He adopted and rescued us.  He paid the price.  He wanted to bring us home, to make us part of His family.  Not because he had to, but simply because he chose to.  Just like we did with Murphy.  

At first, Murphy would not do his business in the back yard.  Sorry if its TMI, but I have a point, I promise.  He'd plop down in the yard and look at us like we were crazy.  He didn't understand how we'd provided for his needs.  Don't we do that with God?  He has some provision for our fundamental needs, and rather than take advantage of it, we are confused and plop down, oblivious to the provision we are literally in the midst of.  

So, we had to walk Murphy.  Twice a day.  At least.  If not, we paid for it with accidents.  But, as we walked along with Murphy, we found that he was gaining trust in us.  He was becoming familiar with us.  He saw that we loved him and we were trying to take care of him.  Just as we walked along the way.  We built rapport and relationship on those walks.  And, is that not the very thing Christ died for?  That we would learn to walk with Him?  As I finished the book Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal last night, Michael Kelley made the point that no where in the Bible can you find the phrase "personal relationship with Jesus," our great Christianese for our faith.  The truth is that the Bible repeatedly describes our faith as walking with Christ.  Plain and simple.  Just walking through our day, our territory, next to Him.  

The longer we've had Murphy, the more we've fallen in love with this sweet little four legged creature.  As he has come to know us, we've seen some big changes.  He just wants to be with us.  The poor thing walks up and down the stairs a million times a day, hot on my heels, as I cart laundry up and down or run to grab something.  He literally follows me around.  He just wants to be near me.  Oh, that I could have that same focus to just follow my Father around!  That I could just desire to be near Him and stay near Him all throughout my day.  

Even more amazing than his sole focus on being near us is the extreme pleasure it brings him.  This dog hardly ever barks now that we don't crate him (he just wanted to be near us at night...not put away in a crate).  Those rare times he might bark in the house is when we leave.  He hates to be away from us.  And, whether we went to take the trash to the curb or were gone for hours, he waits, crouched at the door, for the moment we walk into the house.  He greets us with such enthusiasm, tail wagging and jumping onto our thighs so that we can just scratch behind his ears and reconnect.  That I could have such enthusiasm every time I get to connect again with my Savior through prayer or reading His word.  That I would so hunger for Him that anytime I feel Him near again, I could outwardly demonstrate my contentment for that.

One more thing that Murphy has taught me about God is how to handle storms.  To say that Murphy hates storms would be an understatement.  He is terrified of them.  If he so much as hears the rumble of thunder, he begins shaking.  Fear takes over.  And, he handles it by jumping up on us.  Literally.  Our first storm with him, the dog jumped on my throat at 3 a.m.  He seeks us out and wants to be just as close as he can possibly be to us in order to withstand the storm raging around us.  Funny thing is, he can never seem to be close enough.  The longer he sits on us or next to us and we pet him and soothe him, the shaking gradually slows down or stops.  

We face storms in our lives daily.  Some are minor and some are huge.  That I could just jump into my Father's lap and get as close to Him as I can, letting him soothe me and comfort me and be with me through it.  

Glimpse of GRACE:  Thirteen months ago, we prayed for a dog.  We went with one in mind, and came home with another.  But, we wanted him to be part of our family.  We adopted him.  They even called it a "rescue."  He'd been a street dog and we don't know his story.  But, his past doesn't matter because he's ours now.  We paid the price to take him.  We learned the week after we got him that he had heart worms.  But, he was ours--diseased or not.  It just didn't matter.  Our philosophy was that once we adopted him, he was a family member.  We were determined to pour love on him and care for him for however long we could have him.  

He responded to our love.  In ways we didn't imagine at first.  Our walks with him built a trust.  He learned to trust our provision of a backyard and to take advantage of it.  He responded to our love by building relationship with us.  His main desire in life seems to be just being near us.  He follows us through the house, and once we sit down, he rests in our presence.  Literally.  Laid out flat and relaxed, he usually sleeps and rests when he is near us.  When he is scared and storms come, he seeks to be ever closer.  He no longer runs from us.  He's learned this is his home and we are his people.  He rarely has accidents and we've been able to quit crating him.  Which we had been doing for his own good.  But, now, we can let him run loose and trust him to make "good choices."  

That I could be like Murphy.  That I could learn to embrace that I've been adopted and rescued and my past doesn't matter.  That I could learn to walk with my Father.  That I could learn to follow him around, seeking his presence.  That I could learn to use and enjoy his provisions and trust in them.  That I could learn to rest in his presence.  That I could seek him more earnestly and cling tightly during the storms of life.  That I could learn to break bad habits because of the love of my Lord.  Not to earn his love, but motivated by it.  

Yes, our Murphy has taught us much.  And, on a side note, guess what our God has done for us--just to show off His love for us?  Our Caris has been quite distressed about Murphy's heartworms.  We really couldn't assure her of Murphy's future.  It is a fatal disease.  But, we took the opportunity to encourage her to pray for Murphy, reminding her that God cares about what we care about.  And, we set our minds to make the most of our days with Murphy, however many there might be, trusting that this was indeed the dog for our family.  

At Murphy's annual check-up a few weeks ago, I shared with the vet that we'd been praying for Murphy to be healed from heartworms.  That this might seem silly, but we still took our concerns to Him in prayer.  She said it was possible but not likely that his heartworm test would be negative.  And, if it was positive, as she suspected it would be, she encouraged us to put Murphy through the brutal and expensive heartworm treatment.  

The next day I got a call.  And, I cried.  Through tears, I told Caris the truth.  Murphy was healed.  No heartworms.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip. Zero.  And, she cried in relief, too, for her biggest burden at age 8 had been removed.  So I reminded her that our Master is sweet that way.  He was showing off His love for us by caring for our needs and wants and concerns.  Aren't we blessed that He would choose to rescue and adopt us as His very own?

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