I have two dogs. Scooter is a wonderful older gentleman, a Welsh Terrier, with manners from the old country. He doesn’t say much, but has great expressive ears and eyebrows that tell us what interests him and what disturbs him. He’s quite domesticated. Some of you are his fans on facebook, because he is so extremely charming and photogenic. (He’s also a fabulous singer, by the way).
Then there’s Maggie. Maggie is some sort of terrier mix that was rescued off the streets of Houston, scared, bedraggled and pregnant. We adopted her after she had weaned her puppies, and she is truly a lovely dog, sweet and smart, still cute and puppyish. The only issue I have with her is this: when I am trying to put leashes on both dogs in the morning to take our daily walk, Maggie gets so excited that she makes it nearly impossible to get out the door. She jumps on me, barks and cries, turns in circles, gets tangled in the leash, and is quite frantic until we commence the walk. Maybe it’s an attachment issue from her troubled past. While this hubbub is going on, Scooter just raises his eyebrows and looks at me as if to say, “Oh brother, not this again.”
I’m working on extinguishing Maggie’s troublesome behavior in all the traditional ways that dog trainers recommend. But as I was walking the dogs one morning, I got a revelation about my dogs, and about myself.
I act just like Maggie toward God sometimes. I want him to do something so badly, to make it happen, to “get on with it,” whatever “it” is, that I ironically make it more difficult for him to do it. I make a fuss, or whine, or experience an inner agitation. People around me (mostly my husband, really), must put up with my restlessness and impatience—like Scooter must put up with Maggie, because she’s his baby sister. Sometimes this behavior is a not-so-subtle form of unbelief—a lack of trust that my heavenly Master really has a plan and purpose, when I don’t yet see it fully.
I have been in relationship with the Lord long enough to know and celebrate that he’s in charge, and that He takes very good care of my needs. He never disappoints me by telling me we are going somewhere and then refusing to take me with him—dangling a leash in front of me, and then putting it back on the hook. But sometimes he does make me wait. And sometimes I don’t handle the waiting very well.
Just as I am training Maggie to be still and wait until I am ready to go, I sense God is daily training me. “Be still, Ruth, and look at me. When I know I have your attention and that you trust me to lead you, we will go.” He does this in his ever-so-kind manner, kinder than I have been with Maggie.
David wrote in Psalm 131 (TPT):
Lord, my heart is meek before you.
I don’t consider myself better than others.
I’m content to not pursue matters that are over my head—
such as your complex mysteries and wonders—
that I’m not yet ready to understand.
I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap,
I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.
Other translations tell us that the child is contented because he has been weaned. He is not needy or desperate for his mother’s attention, just quietly enjoying her presence. He trusts that his needs will be met. He is securely attached in a relationship based in love, and not just need.
David concludes the psalm with this exhortation–
O people of God, your time has come to quietly trust,
waiting upon the Lord now and forever.
We are not to decide when and where He takes us, or try to pull him behind us as we walk together. He likes to walk with us! But He insists that we allow Him to be the leader, just as I must be the leader of my little pack.
Thank you, my sweet dog friends, and Holy Spirit, for teaching me this lesson.