Of Puppies and Babies

Although I have had pets before, none compared to the experience of becoming a dog owner. Like my cousin and fellow dog owner said, “Having a dog is like having a kid.” Although Colby is very low maintenance as far as dogs are concerned, in many ways it is like parenting a child. Sometimes I am inclined to think that God is using Colby to bring to light certain references of parents and children in the Scriptures. Last Sunday was one of those times.

My pastor opened the service last Sunday by reading Psalm 131. I knew instantly it was blog material, but I couldn’t write anything on it until today because I hadn’t learned the lesson yet. This morning as I was writing my blog post, “Lab Results,” I suddenly realized that I understood the lesson in Psalm 131. It makes sense now that before I could understand Psalm 131, I had to learn the lesson in Exodus 14. Before I get ahead of myself though, here is Psalm 131.

My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

One of the things that I have learned from “parenting” Colby is that coming up with the means for food and shelter and other basic needs is of no concern to the child. In other words, as silly as this may sound, I never see Colby looking in my wallet to see if I have money for his food. I never see him looking online for jobs to help supplement the income so that he won’t have to go hungry. Providing for him is completely my responsibility as the “parent.” He simply goes to his food dish when he is hungry and he knows it will be filled with food. How the food gets there doesn’t concern him, because as the “child,” provision is not his responsibility. After he has eaten his fill, he goes to his favorite spot in the corner of my craft area and curls up for his nap. He sleeps soundly because he knows that his needs are taken care of. His belly is full, he is warm, and there is absolutely no cause for concern or alarm.

Being a teacher in Waukegan, I have seen children for whom such security is tragically not available for them. Due to instability in the home, they are forced to carry the burden of providing for their families or at least are constantly worrying about where their next meal will come from. As a result, these children are the most difficult to teach. They are often the ones referred for IEP’s and behavior intervention. With their minds filled with things that only adults should be concerned about, it is not surprising that they are inattentive to trivial matters like fractions and verb tenses.

This tragedy is often seen in our relationship with the Lord as well. Whenever we do not trust that God will take care of us and provide for us, we become less sensitive to the things that he is trying to teach us. That has often been the case. Since I have often doubted God’s love for me and his willingness to provide and take care of me as his child, I have not been able to receive instruction from him. When I begin “concern[ing] myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me,” I shut myself from the ability to receive from him what my soul desperately needs. This ties really well with the “do nothing” lesson from Exodus 14, which is why learning that lesson really illuminated this lesson for me. One of the “great matters” that I have been concerning myself with was my battle with depression. Since I had been taking it upon myself to fight it, I was unable to receive not only instruction, but also love from the Lord. Just like it would be difficult for a child who has to carry the burden of provision to receive the love of her parents, I found it difficult to receive the love of God because I felt that I had to fend for myself in these “great matters.”

Have you ever held a sleeping baby? I love holding sleeping babies. I clearly remember my first time holding a sleeping baby. I was thirteen years old and babysitting for a newborn. (Before you protest that no thirteen-year-old should be left responsible for a newborn, rest assured that the baby was brought to my house when my mom was also home, so she helped me with the baby.) After I had fed the baby, he wiggled around in my arms trying to get comfortable. Then when he was satisfied, he sighed deeply and dozed off. The look of peace and trust on his tiny face is still etched in my mind. (I wonder if he would’ve looked the same way if he realized he was in the arms of a clueless teenager!) I am so grateful that God invites us to that same level of peace and trust in him because he is perfectly able to take care of us and he longs to demonstrate his love for us so that we would never doubt his character or heart towards us. Starting to get sleepy? Me too. Don’t we have the best Daddy in the world?

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