Hi everyone. Rob here.
We’ve recently become owners of a 5 month old Labrador cross puppy called Jett. She’s beautiful and she’s also very hard work, especially for my work-from-home wife. We have to work together as a family to ensure that she’s receiving consistent training and messaging about her place in the family. It’s inconvenient at times. The vigilance required is very tiring. Yet, it’s good for us. We’re on a shared mission to care for this dog, and in return, we get a puppy who delights in our presence.
As disciples of Jesus we’re more like puppies than we probably care to admit. When we feel close to God we’ll do anything to stay in that place. Inevitably, though, something will distract us or catch our eye and off we’ll go. We also can’t spend our life just receiving affection. Jett would love it if we could spend more of our time rubbing her tummy, stroking her ears and feeding her treats, but that’s not a healthy life for puppy or owner. God loves to affirm his love for us and spend time delighting in us, but he also wants us to be mature witnesses, faithful workers, loving parents and friends and good stewards of his creation. Disciples receive in order to give. Just as Jett will treat others well if we treat her well, we will love others freely if we allow God to love us freely.
As a young puppy Jett is impulsive, easily distracted, often hungry and, at times, downright naughty. This means that our main role with her is training. Playing and walking with her is still training. Meals are training. Resting is training. Even the giving of affection is training as she learns how to receive love without biting or licking inappropriately (we can all learn that right!). Hebrews 12:10-11 says this:
Our parents disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
We undergo discipline so that we can be trained out of the need to get our own way. Jett is being trained so that she will be a loving presence in our household, not a destructive one. We are being trained so that we too can be a loving presence in God’s creation, not a destructive one. Our instincts need to be shaped by the Spirit to reflect the love of Father and Son, and thus, reflect who we truly are.
We are far more than puppies. Our capacity for good or evil is greater as befits those who are made in the image of God, yet fell a long way. But the lessons remain. We need training. We love affection but we also need to give what we receive. We can bring joy but our instincts need to be honed. We need to trust our loving Master wholeheartedly. Enjoy life because every day is a gift. Unlike us our Master never gets tired. His eye is on us and he delights in his people. He invites us to grow close to him and take on his likeness. We become his friends. Let’s embrace our training and become who we were born to be.
Grace and peace everyone.