There’s a big difference between how well I can look after my dog and how well God can look after me. But I have learned some important things about trusting God from my experience with how my dogs have learned to trust me through the years. That’s what this story is about.
Important information before reading further: This story is about Buddy the Dog, and not about Jake the Desert Bone Dog! You may know Jake from my Facebook page or my Instagram account . Buddy was a Cocker Spaniel mix rescue dog who was a very big part of our family from 2003 to 2014. Jake is an English Springer Spaniel who has been a very big part of our family since October 2015. There will no doubt be some Jake the Desert Bone Dog stories in my blog posts from time to time, but this is about Buddy!
A few years ago, my dog Buddy had to have surgery on his left rear knee (who knew dogs had knees?). Buddy loved to run and while running like a crazy dog in the desert, he had badly torn the ligament that holds the joint together. He had been lame and in a lot of pain for a few days as we processed him through visits to the regular vet and referrals to a veterinary orthopedist and arranged for his operation. The vet surgically replaced the torn ligament with monofilament nylon line and patched in some tissue from another part of his leg to repair the joint. Buddy stayed in the veterinary hospital overnight and I picked him up the next morning.
Poor little guy! His hindquarters were shaved on one side but he was still his hairy self over the rest of his body. He had a bright blue hard and bulky bandage that covered the length of his left back leg, a pain meds patch on a shaved part of his back right foot, and a bandage on his right front leg where the IV needle was inserted for the operation. He just didn’t know what to do or think about his situation!
The veterinary surgery technician sent me home with dire warnings of what could go wrong if I let him run, jump, climb stairs, jump into the car, or do any of the other things he loved to do and was apt to do suddenly and without notice. So for a few weeks, Buddy was severely restricted for activity. He had to be on leash all the time he was outside the house. I had to lift him in and out of the car and carry him up and down stairs. That really changed things in our household for a while!
For the first few days home, Buddy was not in a running and jumping mood. He was lethargic from the medication and he moaned softly from time to time from the pain. It hurt me to see him hurt! I so wished Buddy could tell me how he was feeling and when he needed to go out to relieve himself and when he was thirsty and when the pain was just too much! But he couldn’t. He was a dog and didn’t speak human. I’m a mere human and couldn’t read his mind. The fact is, if I had known what he wanted or needed and had the power to do it, I would have done most anything, because I love my dog!
I remember sitting in my red recliner chair early in the morning, doing my Bible reading and journaling and Buddy lying on the floor right beside my chair, as close to me as he could get. Buddy was getting as close to me as he could, because Buddy trusted me! He was in pain, he didn’t know what was happening and what the outcome would be, he didn’t know what to do, so he simply wanted to be near me because my behavior toward him had always been consistently for his benefit. He trusted me!
Think about this:
- Even though it was action on my part (vet, surgery, bandages) that caused his immediate pain…
- Even though there was no way I could explain to him that the pain and discomfort was for his good and that it would lead to healing…
- Even though there was nothing I could do to help him feel better except scratch behind his ears a little…
- He wanted to be near me. He pressed closer instead of moving away. He trusted me!
Then I thought about me and my master – my Father God. I wished that I could be as good a master to Buddy as God is to me! I cared for Buddy during his injury and recovery. I paid for Buddy’s diagnosis and surgery. But I couldn’t fix him or stop his pain or explain to him what was going on! I could only do my best to see Buddy through the necessary recovery process. I could only restrict his running and jumping and watch him carefully and try to read his little doggy mind to figure out what he needed. In spite of my limitations, and based on a few years of interactions and my behavior toward him in all sorts of other situations, Buddy trusted me.
You know, trust is not really effectively commanded or demanded. Trust is developed through relationship and interaction. When a person (or a dog) (or God) acts consistently in a certain manner over time, you begin to think in terms of that (person, God, or dog) as being trustworthy. Worthy of trust. Trustable. And you begin to assume, expect, trust that given a certain situation or set of circumstances, that person, dog or God will continue that expected action. You feel you can trust them.
Well, here’s the thing: I want to have the same attitude towards my Father God as Buddy had towards me! I want to so simply and completely trust God that when I’m in pain or confused or afraid, I’ll instinctively get as close to God as I can and simply trust God to do the right things and be with me in the pain and arrange the best outcome possible. And I’ll do that because I trust my Father God – not because I’m commanded to trust God and not because God demands that I trust him – but because I’ve learned to trust God through years of interactions and situations.
God loves me even more than I love my dog. He does know what I’m thinking and he understands my moans and groans perfectly. And not only that, he has the power to do what needs to be done.
I don’t want to be preachy here, but you and I both know that trust is not effectively demanded or commanded, it’s developed in relationship and experience. So here’s what I do and I’m strongly encouraging you to do some form of trust development with our Father God. I know you trust God, but what I’m aiming for here is some attitudes and practices that relationally grow and develop your God-trust so it will be the kind of trust that makes you move closer to God when the pain hits, when you’re confused or discouraged. Here are some suggestions:
- Develop constant God-awareness. Our Bible-derived theology tells us that God is always present. God is near, not far. I see the value in places: sanctuaries, church gatherings, rituals. But bring your God-awareness into every part of your life. Think lots of God-thoughts.
- Talk to God conversationally and often. I’m in favor of formal prayer practices, but I carry on a running conversation with God as I go through my day. I ask a lot of questions. I “run things by” him. I make suggestions and then listen to try and see how God thinks about my ideas. Engage with the God Who Is There!
- Develop your own God-awareness, your trust developing attitudes and practices, and tell me and others what works for you. Share your insights.
I’m determined to learn to trust God like Buddy trusted me. Even when the pain passes through God’s hands to me…
- Even when there’s no way God can explain to me why…
- Even though there are factors at work that only God understands…
- I want to, I will press closer to God and not turn away.
How about you!?!
As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.
There’s an update on my health and cancer situation here.