Tuesday, March 4, 2008

JUICY FRUITY FAITHFULNESS - Juicy Fruit of the Spirit - Part 9 - March 1, 2008

But you, O Lord,
are a compassionate and gracious God
…abounding in love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

Last week I expressed my concern for the state of faithfulness in American relationships. Today I take a lighter look at faithfulness, sharing a model of faithfulness extraordinaire: DOGS.
My introduction to dogs came as a big, red stray who Mikey and I “invited” into our home. We immediately fell in love with her and named her Tomato. Our parents allowed her to stay the night and I was out of my mind with jealousy because Tomato chose to sleep with Mikey. I’m sure it was because he was stinky—dogs like that sort of thing. Tomato left us the next day and I was heartbroken.

When I was 24, for my birthday, Rex took me to Cleo’s Pet Shop in Marquette, MI to get a dog—the very first thing on our agenda after settling into base housing at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base.
Before making the trip into Marquette, Rex spoke with the shop owner by phone and learned that a litter of Cockapoo-Pomerian puppies was selling fast. We raced into town and dashed into the shop. Of the two remaining pups, one was full of energy and bouncing off the cage attempting to get to us. “We want that one,” we said, pointing to the shy one trembling in the corner of the cage.

“There’s a family coming in to get a puppy who called before you,” cautioned the shopkeeper, “so I have to give them first pick. They should be here any minute.”

I was already bonded with my precious Muffin Marie when a little boy stormed into the store, took one look at me cuddling the puppy, and pointing, declared, “I want THAT one!” The little imp hadn’t even looked at the other puppy yet, who quite obviously was a much better match for this spirited child.

I think the parents could tell that I would turn into the dog-lover-from-hell if they tried to pry the puppy from my arms and they successfully fast-talked their rascal into getting the other puppy. Thus, I saved Muffin from a life of perpetual torment, for which she was eternally grateful. In return, Muffy loved me unconditionally.

There is nothing like a dog to warm ones heart, and feet. Oh, our canine companions can be challenging at times, like when they dig. They can be disgusting, as when they eat poop (which is actually excellent preparation for dealing with the poop, pee, drool, snot, and vomit of newborns and toddlers). But all in all, they are the next best thing to God. Adam—whose task it was to name all the animals—obviously knew this, for DOG is GOD spelled backwards.

I realize that the Bible says that humans were created in God’s image, but I think dogs were the prototype. I wonder, does God sometimes wish he’d settled for a canine companion rather than upgrading to the human model?

Really, dogs are the perfect model for all the Fruit of the Spirit we’ve studied thus far. However, I must admit that not all dogs are juicy-fruity gentle or self-controlled—our fruity topics for the next two weeks. For example, our Midnight—an adorable Cocker-Scotty mix—was obstinate and rebellious, outsmarting every method contrived to keep her contained in a kennel or the house. We dubbed her Houdini-night and Midnight Magic. But other than the occasional Midnight, dogs come pretty close to perfect, wouldn’t you agree?

Having raised puppies for Leader Dogs for the Blind, I know that the faithfulness of a guide dog involves loyalty, devotion, obedience, dependability, conscientiousness, and trustworthiness. Thus their blind partner can rely on them to keep them safe and on track. Sounds just like God, doesn’t it?

Follow in the paw prints of a dog and you’ll be a model of faithfulness, too. But watch out for those Midnight moments—we all have them!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.
Thomas O. Chisholm

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