But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14
A few weeks ago, our son Niv Jnr bought a fantastic fluffy little puppy naming it Leroy. Eight weeks old when it arrived, we've now had it about three weeks. He is a mixture of light brown, white and merlot (Yeah. I, know. Merlot???). Plus, he has one blue eye.
Anyhow, we love him here, but there are some things we are teaching him and lessons he's teaching us. I can see why children were so important to Jesus.
Niv Jnr's method of training gives me confidence he will have a dog worthy of the breed. It's unbecoming to expect certain breed behaviours, only to find they are missing, like Fenton's. (Please excuse the language. It's now a famous clip. And Fenton was well-trained, just headstrong).
Some Christians are like this. Coming to Christ but not embodying His characteristics. They find themselves in trouble with their master time and again. I know.
A couple of nights ago, Heather and I were working in the kitchen. I was the Commis Chef at the island bench preparing ingredients while Chief Chef Heather was at the stove. In between us, lying on the floor, was the mutt. Concerned he'd be trodden on, I slid him on the polished wooden floor around the end of the island using my foot. He awoke, arose, and slowly sauntered back to the exact spot from where he slid and flopped down.
His casual return got my mind into gear. This breed has a strong sense of closeness. Since we picked up Leroy, he has sought comfort at our feet. For instance, if I'm typing at the kitchen table, he will camp under my chair. If I'm in the lounge, he will lay resting his head on my foot.
It got me thinking of how Jesus would like us to sit at His feet the same way. To have such a desire to be with Him that we wouldn't leave His side. I suppose the best way we can do that today is through prayer, reading and meditating on Jesus' life, staying passionately connected.
Leroy is very young. So through that, he is teaching me patience. It takes a while to change his values. He's already put holes in two pairs of my trackky pants with his sharp teeth. But rather than get angry (which I've already done), I'm meant to distract him, as you would a child. I'm having a lot of fun learning.
As I play with him in the backyard, Leroy would sniff, lick and chew at all the new plants, grass, dirt, and firewood, testing which is edible. He would also lick bluestones and metal, feeling textures and tasting the iron flavour. I watched how everything Leroy encounters is tested by taste and smell. Then mused on the contrast of how so many people reject our Saviour without even giving Him a try.
Proverbs 22:6 says we are to "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Niv Jnr's aim for Leroy is to have him controllable when he matures, and now is the time for his formative training, and mine all over again.
We all know there are many things we learn from dogs. As we train, we get trained. For me, a couple of main things are true forgiveness and love. Dog's have a long memory, but a short memory for holding a grudge. Pet dogs quickly forget our sins toward them. It's not long before they are again leaping around us, waiting for us to pat them or throw a stick. God built something exceptional into dogs that is missing in many humans. A well-raised dog never seems to dwell on holding back forgiveness and love for its master for too long. A few seconds or minutes, and it's back to normal.
Contrarily some humans can hold a grudge for years. I recall the story of a minister who gave his wife the silent treatment for seven weeks. When he came out of it, he couldn't believe he did it. But at the time, he was adamant he was right.
I'm enjoying this little ball of adventurous fluff, watching him on his hunts through the plants and trees, barking at odd-shaped stones and wrestling with dead low-hanging branches. I think there is more for me to learn than for Leroy.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for pets. They bring so much joy and comfort to owners, the two often becoming inseparable. Help me learn what I can, changing my nature where it is needed.
Photo by Erin Minuskin