A lesson I learned from my dog
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
I recently had a retreat with several men at South Texas ranch, where we spent time ministering in small groups.
Betty and I went down together with our dog Princess, a miniature Dachshund. Princess is really a hound—she loves to hunt.
I wish I could know what her nose is telling her.
She loves to chase rabbits, lizards, mice, squirrels and anything else she can pursue.
She rides in the pickup truck, staring over the steering wheel just trying to see something move.
You just say the word "truck" and she jumps and yelps, anxious to get into the truck, stand in my lap and peer over the dashboard.
She is too cute.
Her little eyes peer out the window like an excited child.
When we see a rabbit or squirrel, I often let her out to chase it, but not this time.
We were too busy during the retreat as I ministered to the men throughout the day.
As we sat around the room, Princess waited politely, quietly and patiently in the corner, hoping to go hunting later.
When I would leave, she was excited because she thought we were off to hunt—a real adventure. But I was tired and wanted to spend some time with Betty, so Princess did not get to hunt.
This went on for a couple of days. On the third day, after spending time with the men and watching Princess behave so beautifully, I could sense her disappointment.
A little Dachshund can look somewhat like a Bassett Hound when they get down.
They look so sad!
I came in the house and told Betty, "I’ve got to take Princess hunting."
She said, "James, you’re tired and it’s hot outside."
I said, "But honey, she has been so good I have to take her.
Princess had waited so patiently, expressing her excitement and but never getting what she really wanted.
She was a perfect little lady.
I began to think about children who often manipulate their parents to get what they want.
They do some chores, cleaning up their room or helping in the kitchen, because they want to go somewhere, buy something, or do something with their friends.
Of course, parents may play along because we want to see our children have fun, but we understand that there is some manipulation going on.
Princess has begged plenty of times, too, knowing what she wants. But this particular time, it was totally different.
I had to take Princess out.
Because she was just so good.
I felt like God spoke to me very clearly and said, "Remember the times when you began to notice that your children were just good. They were doing things well because ‘good is good.’ They did things right because ‘right is right.’ Do you remember how earnestly you wanted to bless them—to do something special for them because you knew they were being good not to get something, but just because it is right to do right?"
I think this is what it means to have God’s word "written in our hearts" and not just carried around in a leatherbound book.
As I thought about it, God touched my heart and seemed to say, "You know, I saw your children doing this, too, and I’ve one-upped you. I’ve gone way beyond. Look how blessed they are in their marriages and with their families. They learned to do good not just because they were Robisons or because they had a ministy family and everyone expected them to do what was right. They decided to do what was best because it was best, to do right because it was right. Look what has happened in their relationships, their choices, their decisions and their futures."
Sometimes, it seems like it’s easier to love a dog than to love people, but if we can love our pets and our children, how much more does God love us?
We love it when an animal is faithful to us, but God loves it even more when His people are faithful to Him.
When we do right simply because it’s right, our Heavenly Father will reward us.
He is far more faithful than a dog, a child or any other human.
And He rewards us just because He is good and wants to see us happy.
I took Princess out that afternoon to chase rabbits and she was as happy as a little dog can be.
I shared in her joy, too.
And I smiled as I understood a little more about God’s love for us and His desire to bless us when we live a life of obedience and faithfulness.
This week do right, just because it’s right. This pleases God.
Prayer "Lord, I want to live according to Your will.
"Thank you for being faithful beyond my comprehension.
"Help me to live a life that’s pleasing to You."