Lessons from a Puppy

image_e63ab4b7-a1e8-449b-92fa-9ad7f8aaea8f.img_3240We have a new puppy in the family! Not at our house, but at our daughter and son-in-law’s house nearby. Part of the decision in them getting a puppy was our willingness to help let the little guy out during their work day and when they need to be gone. It has been more fun than we expected. My husband is fully retired so he is on puppy-duty more frequently than I, but I get to fill in on my day off and the weekend, sometimes. His name is Thor, the puppy that is, not my husband! There is hardly anything more fulfilling than to see Thor and watch him get so excited to see us! He has the exuberance of an 18 month old who sees grandma and papa after a few day’s absence. We are, for all intents and purposes, little Thor’s grandma and papa.

This doesn’t entirely surprise me. I hoped that we could have this kind of a mutually fulfilling relationship with this puppy. What has surprised me is the larger lesson I have been learning through this experience. My daughter has done much research on the type of dog that would fit best in their family and how best to care for him. They picked a Havapoo as the breed because of their temperament and intelligence. They found a breeder in Northern Ohio who had a liter of puppies at the time they wanted, and they drove several hours in order to adopt Thor into their family. They also learned how best to train Thor to be the type of family pet they needed. One important aspect was to properly socialize him. He needed to attach to his family as well as to learn to submit to the authority of his family. Improper socialization would create a dog who couldn’t interact well with people. Failure to teach submission would put him in dangerous situations as well as make house training and leash training especially difficult if not impossible. Only a few months into this relationship Thor is already quite connected to his new family. He loves his time with each one of us and is very affectionate. One of his favorite things is to roll on his back and get his belly rubbed (which I am told is a sign of a submissive attitude), and we are more than willing to participate! He is learning the skills and behaviors that the family needs from him, like house training, “sit” and “come”. Perhaps more importantly, Thor seems very happy and content in his new home.

The larger lesson I have been learning is how similar this is to us humans. We have been specifically created by God to have the proper temperament and characteristics to fit best in God’s family. God wants to adopt us into His family, and He will go to great lengths to pursue us.  Then He sets about the process of socializing us to be kind, gracious and loving to others. But the number one thing we must do is to submit. We have to choose to submit to the authority of God in our lives, acknowledging that we cannot earn our own way to heaven nor can we lead victorious lives on our own. Failure to submit to God will lead us into dangerous situations and will tie God’s hands regarding our proper instruction into the fruitful life He has planned for us.

Submission…we don’t like that word much!! We have been taught to be independent thinkers, “self-made” men and women, to have SELF esteem and to “do it my way”. I have bought into all this hype, too. But slowly and surely God is opening my eyes to a better way…that it is through submission to our Holy God that brings true freedom. Our adult Sunday School class is working through Max Lucado’s “Experiencing the Heart of Jesus”. Max says that Jesus sets us free from a number of things:

  • Jesus sets us free from our emotional baggage
  • Jesus sets us free from discontentment
  • Jesus sets us free from hopelessness
  • Jesus sets us free from fear
  •  Jesus sets us free from loneliness
  • Jesus sets us free from guilt and shame

Psalm 111:10 was my devotional scripture yesterday: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. All those who do his work have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

We hope that our puppy has a fear of disappointing us so that he learns not to run into the street and a trust that we are placing limits upon him because we love him and want to protect him. We need to be similar. Are we willing to live in submission to our God, trusting that He places limits upon us because He loves us and wants to protect us? Can we reject the world’s lies about the freedom of ‘self’ and embrace the freedom afforded us as followers of Jesus? I challenge you to be observant in the coming days. Who seems to be living with more peace and joy…those who are self focused or those whose eyes are focused upon God, our creator, and Jesus, our redeemer? I think you will find that peace comes in the submission. Freedom comes in the relationship with Jesus. True fulfillment comes through willingly following the path that God lays out before you. True love and compassion are found within the body of believers most often called the church.

These are my lessons from our puppy…so far. I’ll keep you posted!

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