Shadows of Heaven: The Faithfulness of Dogs

[Repost from 4/6/2006] Every morning I do the same thing: I get home from work, put on a pot of coffee, grab my bible, and step out onto my back patio to read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the date. Every morning my dachshund Lucy does the same thing: she comes down the stairs, greets me, wags her tail violently, and lays down by the back glass door to watch me while I read my morning Proverb.

Lucy is a very affectionate dog. She loves attention from anyone and is quick to jump and to lie on the lap of whoever is sitting down, whether he is willing or not. She spreads her doggy love to everyone in the room without discrimination (even if they say she’s fat) and is quite content on being the center of attention, that is, until I step out of the house onto the back patio. Suddenly it is as if everyone else in the room disappears and I am the only one left. She quietly moves over to the door, positions herself at the best angle to watch me, lies down, and lets out an occasional whimper.

None of this is to say that I am the best dog owner ever or that I show her more affection than the other people in the house, but, as my one of roommates aptly said, “She knows who her daddy is.”

Sometimes I wonder if I act like I know who my Daddy is, or if I get so caught up pursuing the love and affection of the other people in the room that I do not notice when I have abandoned God for them. How often do I make sure that my eye is always focused on God so that when he “steps out onto the back patio” I am there watching and waiting for him?

What I have also grown to begin to notice is how my loyalty and faithfulness to God affects my loyalty and faithfulness to others. When I am focused on and faithful to God, my relationships align accordingly: I respect and honor my father and mother, I love and cherish my [wife], I esteem my pastors and elders, I appreciate my roommates, and I adore Lucy. The moment that I am not faithful to God, my faithfulness to everyone else dissipates: I dishonor my parents, I turn my eyes and heart and consider others than my [wife], I degrade and disrespect the leaders of my church, I am annoyed by my roommates, and I lash out at Lucy for being so darn affectionate. All this happens because I am disloyal to the One that I know I am supposed to be loyal to.

Lucy is a stupid dog–very affectionate, but stupid. No matter how stupid she is, she is smarter than me in that she knows what loyalty is and practices it every moment of her life. Sure she goes around the room from lap to lap when there is company over (which is only excusable for dogs by the way), but she never loses sight of her “daddy.” There is a lesson to be learned from dogs like Lucy, and that lesson is that even some of God’s creatures with the smallest capacity for thought know what true loyalty and faithfulness are better than we. What excuse then do we have, who are supposedly so much more rational and intelligent than dogs, when we turn aside from our Maker, are unfaithful to our spouses, are disrespectful to our parents, etc.? When we act unfaithfully, we show ourselves not to be rational creatures but to be animals that are lower than dogs. Perhaps one day by grace God will grant that we will be as loyal to him and to others we love as dogs are to their masters. Until that day, may we praise and thank God for his giving to us loyal companions that are shadows to us of such heavenly realities.

Categories: Theology

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