‘When they see what I do,
they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
and be forgiven.’ (from Mark 5:12, NLT)
I have a dog. It’s a fine dog. It’s not an extreme-anything dog. It’s not the smartest, prettiest, biggest or smallest, most stupid, or any other quality that sets it apart. It’s a fine dog. But between my wife and I we have an issue with this dog. Lots of issues, but one that comes to mind quickly. It’s a laundry menace.
Often, when we try and sort and fold laundry, we do it on our bed. The laundry, I mean – we sort it and fold it into piles on our bed. And this dog has no respect for that whatsoever. Seeing our attention is not fully focused on it, the dog will hop onto the bed and dart to and fro, trying to engage us in a game of… whatever kind of game a dog imagines in its dog brain. And of course, it messes everything up. Socks are all over, neatly folded towels are mussed, kids piles are strewn all over and even as we chase it off the bed, it drags the laundry away on its big, nuisance-y feet. It’s even worse when the laundry is fresh out of the dryer. It can feel the heat emanating from those clothes from across the house, I’m sure. Then this dog comes in, hops up, and rolls and wiggles its way right onto the pile. Here, not only does the dog not respect our desire to bring order, it has total disrespect for what we’ve just achieved through the laundering process. We washed those clothes/sheets/socks/undies to eliminate mess and odor. Here, the dog is rubbing its dark fur all over the place and smearing dog smell right into everything that is Bounce fresh. And then I want to grab it and choke it. But of course, as soon as I come toward it, the dog thinks its time for its most favorite game in the world – the one where I grunt and groan and try and catch it. Then it hops up, send socks flying everywhere, knocks over a pile or two and leaps around with the grace of a 85 pound drunken blindfolded five-legged rabbit.
The dog just has no appreciation for what I value. It can’t be bothered to care about anything that I am trying to achieve. And then conviction settles in. I wonder, what is God up to in my midst and while He’s at work on something magnificent, I am no different than my dumb dog? Where might God be doing things, bringing order, life, new hope, and I’m too distracted with what I think is fun in that moment to have eyes to see? Where is God’s heart frustrated with the state of some relationship, initiative, community or other deep care that He wants to see come to full redemption, and I am just trying to find a cozy spot to lay down?
At least the dog has an excuse; it’s a dog. And not an exceptional dog at that. It does have fantastic blue eyes, otherwise, it’s a mutt that is loved only by my family. And loved well. Me, however, I have the Spirit of the Living God at work in me, alive in me, loving me and crying out Wisdom from the street corners at me, trying to awaken my soul to join in. And I’m looking for a pile of socks to mess up.
Lord, have mercy.
But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Eph 1:18-19, the Message)