C.S. Lewis wrote:
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.”
I was home for thanksgiving and my family has a couple of Golden retrievers, named Gracie and Cricket.
Gracie is a good dog. She’s loving and cuddly, and mostly obedient, she’s like 12 and yet super healthy, we don’t need a leash to run with her, and she’s super smart; like, she knows how to open doors and stuff.
Cricket on the other hand is sloppy, clumsy, dumb, stubborn and unruly. Young and already has medical problems. She’s fat and out of shape so I have to almost drag her, with a leash, when trying to run with her.
When we’re in the house we have to keep them behind a baby fence because Cricket will get into everything. A couple days ago I heard Gracie pick the lock of their little baby fence and they both came panting out to join us in whatever it was that was so irresistible they needed to be there. But Cricket went straight for the cat bowl and ate all of Stampy’s food.
NO! Both of you, BACK INTO YOUR ROOM! Cricket had ruined it for us all.
We have to draw some lines sometimes that they probably think were unnecessary and tyrannical but we do love them, provide for them, and discipline them when they need it.
I know this is a flawed analogy, but sometimes I wonder if God sees us a little like I see our dogs.
Here’s another example. This morning I went running. I didn’t want to have to leash and drag Cricket so I tried to escape out of the front door so the dogs wouldn’t know I went without them.
But 100 yards down the street I see them running after me. Gracie had opened the door and they had come running after me (Cricket already far behind Gracie of course).
On our run/walk they ran all over the place, getting in people’s business, and making me get stern looks from neighbors, but that moment when I saw their flopping ears running to be with me I smiled, shook my head, and loved them.
I think that’s like us and God sometimes too. I bet God loves it when he sees us running after him, leaving everything behind to be with him. Even if we then get all sloppy and abuse our freedom, I think God loves to see us running after him.
But something pretty hard happened a few days ago.
Cricket had a seizure (I told you she’s got some problems). She gets them from time to time but this is the first one I had been there for. My dad and bonus (step) mom weren’t home so I was the one that found Cricket.
I knew something was weird when I heard a random banging and kicking of nails against the floor, door, and walls. It confused me of course but when I found her, I realized what it was. She was jolting and writhing and squinting and drooling. It was so sad.
It was all I could do to hold her close and speak to her as her body had its own way with her.
It was so weird. The feelings I felt for this unruly, sloppy, stubborn, honory dog were so tender. So deep. That was the most I may have ever loved her. I mean she was pretty cute when she was a puppy, but now as I watched her suffer, my heart was broken for her and I held her close and spoke to her so tenderly. “It’s gonna be okay. I’m sorry you have to go through this. You’ll get through this. I love you so much.”
After it ended I carefully wiped the saliva off of her face and watched her muscles begin to relax. Her face slowly untwisted and her big dilated eyes looked up at me. I took her head in my hands and put it in my lap and let her rest as I spoke softly to her. I held her so close. I loved her so much.
And I started thinking, maybe God is like that too.
Some days the worst comes out of us, and we do all the horrible things we don’t understand and can’t seem to control, and we’re just left writhing in our own slobber, helpless on the floor, with a broken heart, realizing we’re so messed up and asking why would anybody love us.
If the compassion I felt for Cricket is anything like the compassion God feels for us, I bet he’s really close then. And is trying to whisper that he loves us so much and is sorry this is happening. And that we’ll make it out the other side. And asking us to let him hold us until the pain is through.
Psalms 34:18 says, God is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
And afterwards when we come to him, so humbly, realizing how messed up and hopeless we are and how much we need him. I think he loves us especially then.
Psalms 51:16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
God, I’m sorry for the times I am proud, and when I do my own thing and just go eat all of the cat’s food and sniff other dog butts. But thank you for being near as I fail, and not despising me when I come to you, knowing I have failed. Renew me again Lord. Keep me humble. Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Raw Spoon, 11-30-15