Monday, September 26, 2016

I am the Lord thy Dog.

One book I read said that dogs naturally look to their humans as a leader simply because the human is the food dispenser. This happens regardless of that human's good or bad leadership. Even if your dog seems to be wrestling for control, they're just trying to figure you and your rules out. 

But according to almost every dog training book you will ever read, you'll find a line that says something to the effect of: teach your dog that you are the most important thing in the world. That's rule #1.

Now, in essence, this means whenever they encounter a distraction or you ask something of them, they turn their attention on you. Always you.

I'm starting to wonder if perhaps, training a dog has spiritual implications.

Three weeks ago, we brought home a dog from the pound. Her name is Lucy and she has absolutely no manners whatsoever. Housebroken? No. Sit? Stay? Come? Nope. Nada. Nothing. A blank slate it ever there was one. So I've been attempting to teach her. But perhaps I'm learning as much as she is, if not more - she's still figuring out how to walk on a leash.

Training Lucy, I'm reminded of that hymn... Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. When we walk down the street and another dog barks, she always strains at the leash and whines. It's nigh unto impossible to get her attention back until we round a corner. And whenever there's a sound outside, she goes into a barking fit.

What Lucy doesn't understand yet, is that I've got her best interests at heart. Judging by the barking dog's manners, I know the meeting wouldn't go well. And those noises - I know whatever it was, it's not going to hurt us. If only she would listen to me, everything will be okay.

She drags when we go for a walk. At least for the first few blocks until she grows tired. I can stop, tell her to sit, and refocus her attention, but she'll go right back to tugging once we begin walking again. As the dispenser of all good things (i.e. treats) I reward her whenever she heels. But she forgets when we initially begin our walk. Pulling doesn't get her anywhere.

I think that we too forget that our master is the most important thing in our lives. And he is the giver of all good things. But in the moment, we surge ahead. I can help you God! Do you hear that noise? We should do something about it!
Man makes his plans... but God directs his steps (Prov. 16:9).
God is sovereign, there is nothing that is out of his control. Nothing he isn't already aware of.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).
So, if God is in control - if he looks after us so perfectly - then why do we strain, so eager to get ahead, when his timing so so perfect?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight
(Prov. 3:5-6).

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tears at the Altar

I'm not one to cry. But oh how I was fighting the tears as I saw her enter through the back door on her father's arm. There were diamonds in her eyes. And in that moment, I knew everything was about to change. And I saw it coming months ago.

I remember sitting on my couch back in May, our heads close together as we talked about the ring. He'd only just ordered it and all their plans for the future were still a secret. Heat flooded my cheeks as we spoke and I couldn't help but smile. I was so happy for her... So proud of her.

I remember after we graduated, when he popped the question. I couldn't be there, but she sent me pictures. I don't even have words for the heartfelt sigh that escaped my lips.

Then came the wedding invitation. The engagement photos were everything I could have imagined after seeing her reaction to his first, "I love you." I showed all of my friends those photos. I couldn't contain the joy I felt - the pride in knowing her.

And then the bridal shower. I drove five hours to be there. There was this urge to be as close to her as I could for as much time as I had. I wanted to relieve whatever stress I could and help her enjoy this time... this process... if I possibly could. And yet, I knew things would be different after the vows were said. She would be apart of a package after that. So there was a bittersweet need to savor our time.

I drove up two days before the ceremony, and when I saw her at the rehearsal, there was anxiety in her face. Of course she wanted everything to go smoothly, but smoothness doesn't come easy. So I lent her a smile and reassuring words. With diamonds in her eyes... no one would care about the details.

So finally, when I stood at the front, watching her come down the isle, my eyes were watering. Everything was about to change... But I couldn't have picked a better man for her. He loves her as much if not more than I do. He treats her like the princess that she is.

One of the guests went on and on later about how she refused to cry during the ceremony. The other bridesmaids expressed their anxiety, walking down the isle. But in the blur of it all, I can only remember the trembling of my lips and the smile that took over my face. Truthfully, I wasn't at all certain if the tears would remain at bay or not. When the vows were said, my cheeks were wet.

But there's no shame in wedding tears.

I have never been so happy for anyone in my life. It doesn't even seem real. Whatever may come next, any changes, it's all worth it to see the anxiety-turned-joy I saw on one of my best friends' face. And the look on his face when he saw her in all her bridal regalia confirmed it.

I've never been so proud or joy-filled.

My cup overflows.... with happy tears

And to my great surprise - I caught the bouquet. She told me, "you're next," as we exchanged our last squeeze of a hug before she left on her honeymoon.

All my best wishes and love, friend.