or most of my life, I have had dogs as pets. We have had all kinds of dogs: inside, outside, rescue, and purebred. Foe several years, my husband and I experienced the freedom (financial and otherwise) of not owning a pet, but something in us yearned for another furry friend.
So, we made a trek to the next town to see a litter of 12 puppies with two gigantic parents. Since we desired an indoor dog, I kept staring at the enormous size of the parents, asking myself if I wanted a dog the size of a pony in the house. But looking at the precious puppies, those thoughts faded . . . especially after seeing my husband pay a deposit for the rambunctious sable German shepherd the owners called “Tiger.”
We renamed our new pup “Eli.” It was fun having him saunter around the house . . . until he started uprooting houseplants, chewing on shoes and doorframes, and eating cell phones and every other object within his reach. It was like having a wild animal in the house.
That brings me to the first lesson I learned from Eli: Even though we were rambunctious, not behaving how God wanted us to behave, He chose us (John 15:16). He created us to be in relationship with Him, yet we rebelled in selfishness. Just as Eli acted on his animal instincts, we acted out because of the sin nature we inherited from Adam.
Thankfully, God’s love is not contingent upon our behavior. Romans 5:8 says, “God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (ESV).
The next lesson God spoke into my heart concerned why He would choose me. Exasperated, I would lay next to Eli at night when he finally gave out after expending all of his energy. As I watched him sleep, I would appreciate his beauty.
He is an exquisite specimen created by God. The prophet Zephaniah said about us, “The Lord your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (3:17 NKJV). Lesson two: Our Creator watches and rejoices over His children.
I want to make my Father proud by doing things that please Him as He looks at me. Philippians 2:13 says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT). My heart’s desire is that when God gazes upon me, He can say, “That’s My girl!”
Initially, Eli was rather aloof. He did not want to play, cuddle, or be petted. He was disconnected, distant, and all about himself. Here’s the third lesson: We humans can fail to recognize we have a loving Master who wants to take care of us. We often look right past Him and try to satisfy our own needs. Instead, we should allow the Master’s touch to penetrate our life. God desires intimacy with us (Rev. 3:20). That requires time spent alone with Him.
During that first tumultuous year with Eli, he hurt us with those sharp puppy teeth and long nails. Seeing my bruises, scrapes, and scabs, my coworkers thought I had a mean and vicious animal in the house, but I would assure them he didn’t mean to cause me harm. This teaches a fourth lesson: We can grieve the Holy Spirit by our actions, even without realizing it.
Ephesians 4:30 says, “Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own” (NLT). We need to “consider [ourselves] dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11 NLT).
Eli is huge. Before he was a year old he weighed 100 pounds. He is a consumer who destroys his toys and always wants to eat. It is very costly having him as a member of the family. Even so, I wouldn’t trade him. Lesson five: God paid a great cost for us to be in His family.
Jesus counted the cost and willingly gave His life to save us (John 10:18). I can never repay Him, but I can love Him with all my heart, soul, and strength, which is what He desires (Luke 10:27).
Eli used to aggressively bark and lunge at anything that moved, including leaves blowing in the wind. He used his God-given senses and abilities to guard our property. However, after becoming familiar with his surroundings, he ignored the comings and goings of everyday life. They became too familiar.
The final lesson: It is easy for us to ignore the extravagant beauty and wonder of the world around us. The many blessings in life become commonplace and even expected, and we become complacent. Instead, each day, whether simple or special, is a gift from God and should be appreciated. We must not lose the wonder of our wonderful God.
Gloria Day attends Family Worship Center Church of God in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.From November, 2016