God often uses my animals to teach me lessons about how he relates to me. I have joked for some time that the reason I have had so many animals (chinchillas, dogs, one cat, horses) is because I need so many living illustrations to learn what most people might absorb just from reading a bible verse or two! Slow on the uptake. That’s me. 🙂
I moved away from home when I was 19, some 33 years ago now. I wasted no time in getting the BIG dogs of my dreams. Never having had big dogs and always wanting some :-), a Golden Retriever named Joshua and a German Shepherd named Morgan became my roommates, constant companions, and parental replacements. (My parents replaced me with a Llasa Apso.)
Joshua’s nature was—of all things—to retrieve. 🙂 That is all there was to it. When he was eager to please, he seemed possessed by a force that drove him to do the unthinkable–ANYTHING to retrieve something for the human who was the object of his devotion—usually me. 🙂
If no ball or stick was readily found, dirty laundry, garbage, blankets pulled off the bed, small children, all were viable alternatives! He just HAD to bring something to show his version of doggie devotion and love. His demonstrations were far from “perfect” (and were quite irritating at times, to be honest), but as his “master,” I recognized the heart behind it. After cleaning up whatever mess he made on his way to retrieving whatever it was, I loved on him, knowing that it was his nature to retrieve. I felt compassion for him, and appreciated even his imperfect obedience.
I still remember when God showed me that He does likewise with me. My earnestness to please him, no matter how misguided or “imperfect,” brings a smile to his face. He, too, cleans up my messes and has compassion on my crude attempts to please him.
Recently, a friend of mine shared about an episode of “The Very Best of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” she watched on Net Flix.
If you want to see the episode, check out Collection 1: Episode 7, Power of the Pack, about 32:35 minutes into the episode.
In it, Cesar says:
“Food to me is part of affection.”
I wonder if this accurately captures how God feels about feeding us, His children? Does he, perhaps, love us with food? Many of us love others with food, but I wonder if God’s expression of his love and concern is demonstrated in part by his perfect provision of food for us, his children.
“The food also we have to give to the pack when the mind is calm, submissive, which means they have to be in a very patient state of mind for them to receive this food.”
Oh! I wonder how long my God would have to wait to feed me if he waited as Cesar does…for my mind to be calm, submissive, and patient. I wonder sometimes, if that is why I don’t land on a “0” as soon as I wish I would. Maybe God, in his divine sovereignty, is waiting for my mind to be calm, submissive, and patient.
“At the same time, when I’m preparing the food, I’m happy doing it.”
Have you (or I) considered that God is happy providing the next meal that I will have the joy of eating when I am physically hungry? What a wonderful thought!
“So, I am sharing my love preparing the food for my boys, who work already with me and I now am going to satisfy the appetite.”
If a fallible human man is moved to show love for his pets by satisfying their hunger, then I know that my God has an even better, more tender, more perfect heart of love for me—one that intends to satisfy my appetites—in the very way they need satisfying.
The next scene in this episode, challenged me a bit. Cesar had his hands in the canned dog food and was squishing it together with the dry kibble. (Can I just say “ewwwww….”???) As he was doing this, he said:
“I like to use my hand—just because I feel more close to them. You know, my scent is delivered in the food, so they get to smell me in the meal too…”
How tender a love this is! What does our God do just to feel more close to us, his children? I wonder if our God wants each meal to be an opportunity for us to experience His “scent” delivered to us as well…that we might “smell” him in His provision. Cesar is willing to have his hands made a mess of in order to do this. I love the reason he gives for this…
“I want to be very intimate with them. And I want to be part of every single thing that they do. I really want to be everything they have… “
Does God say this about us to the host of heaven? That he wants to be very intimate with us? That he wants to be part of every single thing that we do? That he wants to be everything we have? The psalmist seems to think so as he responds to God’s overtures with the following:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
– Psalm 73:23-26 (ESV)
I think my God is a “Heidi Whisperer,” calming me, changing me, moving me from frenetic, undisciplined behavior, to being more calm, peaceful, settled in my own skin. I wish I wasn’t such a hard study. If Cesar can change a dog in just two weeks, well…oh yeah…I forgot. I am “slow on the uptake.” Verrrrrrry slow!
How About You?
Have you ever considered that God wants to use your struggle with food, hunger and satisfied signals, to be very intimate with you? How does it strike you to consider that he may want you to think of him as everything you have? Do you allow him to “deliver His scent” to you in the food He provides in the perfect time?