Things you can learn from your dog

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2002

I lost my old dog Windy the morning following Halloween to an unknown individual who apparently was late for work, and had no time to stop and check the condition of the dog he/she had just ran over. Speeding through a residential area liberally posted with "Speed Limit 5 mph" signs, this individual neither slowed nor stopped. Just left poor old Windy lying in the street, broken and bloodied. She was three days shy of her 12th birthday, and it was hard, very hard, to let her go. Nov. 1 was, for me, a very black day indeed.

Old dogs are comfortable, not unlike an old pair of shoes, or a favorite hat or coat. A true companion, Windy enjoyed our hikes along the trails and paths of our coastal Alaska town. She was continually up and down the trail, in and out of the creek, chasing birds, irritating porcupines, greeting other walkers like they were long-lost pals, yet her eyes were always watching for me.

I was the center of her world. At my call she would race back to me as fast as her short little legs could carry that old round mound of brown. She knew my voice, and obediently responded to my call. And though at times she strayed, her greatest desire was to be with me. I suppose that in Windy's world I was her shield, her protector, and her refuge. Is this not how our walk with God should be (Psalm 23)? Should we not always look to Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2)? Should He not be the center of our world (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)? Do we know, listen for, and obediently respond to His call (Psalm 95:7-8)? Is it our greatest desire to always be in His presence, to always do His will (Matthew 7:21)?

At times I was humbled by the faith and trust my dog placed in me. Trust and faith were simple for her. Not always so for me, yet trust and faith is all our Creator asks of us - that by faith we trust, believe, and obediently follow His precepts. 2 Chronicles 20:20 exhorts us to "Believe in the Lord your God." In Romans 3:28, we read that "a man is justified by faith," and Hebrews 11:6 cautions us that "without faith it is impossible to please God." Nahum 1:7 assures us that "He knows those who trust in Him." God is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24), and Proverbs 3:5-6 holds forth the promise that He will guide the paths of those who place their trust in Him. We should in awesome wonder consider that the Creator of all we behold desires to fellowship with us; that all He asks in return is we, with childlike faith (Matthew 18:4), trust and obey. Just seems too easy, doesn't it?

I am reluctantly learning to let go of the things I have grown to love. People, places, possessions, things animate and inanimate, all have come and gone, and all before I was prepared to let them go. For me, one of life's hard lessons is that I cannot depend upon the permanence of the things of this world. There is, however, left to us a friend on whom we can depend. A friend who will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8), who cares for each of us (1 Peter 5:7), who will bear our burdens (Psalm 55:22), a friend whose love will sustain us though our darkest days (Isaiah 43:2). The covenant promises of God are as sure as the eternal character of God, and are available to all should we come to Him with a seeker's heart (Jeremiah 29:13). When we place our trust in God He can bring us peace in the pressures of our everyday lives (John 16:33), and who can deny this life is not lacking for pressure?

At the end of a long week of moping around the house it occurred to me that the best antidote for these "dog-gone" blues was to get another dog. Lily is yet a puppy, almost 9 weeks old when she arrived via Alaska Airlines, and while I'm waiting for her to grow I'm still hiking. Here in Southeast Alaska our Creator's awesome handiwork is clearly evident in the majestic beauty of the natural world (Romans 1:20), and it seems appropriate that while walking I tend to reflect on my walk with God. Childlike faith, trust, and obedience - should it be your desire to experience a closer walk with Lord Jesus, these three things He will ask of you, and faith and trust in God always find expression in doing His will (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Set aside an hour or so, two or three times a week, to take your dog for a walk. You'll be amazed at all the thinking you can do while you're walking. It's fun, it's refreshing, it's good for you, and you know, we can learn a lot from our dogs.

Chris Erickson is a member of Juneau's Bethany Baptist Church.

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