I have been discipled by my dog. I don’t mean directly. We didn’t go to Starbucks and paw through a Bible Study together. But God used a couple of rescued Labradors to show me living, breathing examples of His love and grace.
Here are five things dogs show us about God.
- Unconditional love. Is there a better example of this Godly attribute than our canine friends? Dogs love the desperately poor with the same intensity as the ridiculously wealthy. They don’t care if you are ugly or beautiful. They love losers as much as winners. Performance makes no difference to a dog. Performance makes no difference to God’s love for us. He cares about faithfulness. Out of that faithfulness comes the fruit of the Spirit which produces performance that counts for eternity. Unconditional love demonstrates the power of the Gospel.
- Affirmation. No creature does a better job of affirming than a dog. What a feeling to drag in after a wretched day and be greeted like a returning war hero. I am amazed by the healing power of affirmation. Paul wrote a letter to an Ephesian church that had made a mess of the things he painstakingly put into place. His letter begins with three chapters of affirmation and reminders of who they were in Christ. After those powerful reminders he gently corrected their sins. Affirmation changes relationship dynamics.
- Purposeful living. My Labradors were created to retrieve. You throw a ball and they get it. They have a purpose. I have also been created with a purpose. In fact, every person has a God-designed destiny whether they believe it or not. Henri Nouwen wrote about living with that frame of mind. “We act as if we were simply dropped down in creation and have to decide how to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was.” Believe you have a purpose.
- Forgiveness. I can ignore my furry friend’s nuzzle. I can reject her overtures to play. One thing I can always count on from my dog is always demonstrating 1 Corinthians 13 love. My dog’s love is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged. When I do find time for her, she greets me with appreciation and enthusiasm far beyond what my earlier behavior might have deserved. Don’t keep score.
- Living in the moment. My dog is such a role model for living in the moment. She can be sound asleep and when a ball bounces by she springs up with sheer abandon. I can have that same kind of spontaneous freedom. Because of Christ I can live without regret of the past. It is forgiven. I can live without fear of the future. It is in God’s hands. Because of the finished work of Jesus I can live freely and joyfully in the moment. That may be the most important lesson of all from my canine friend. Enjoy today.
Martin Luther called his canine friends one of God’s greatest gifts. We can learn from any part of His amazing creation but I think God provided a special instructor when He gave us man’s best friend.