Friday, September 28, 2007

God/dog. Dog/God. The Sequel.

[NOTE: wow. It literally was over a year ago that I wrote the first of these. Man. How time flies...]

From my standpoint and limited perspective and understanding of heaven from this side of eternity…I think not only could forever be somewhat dull without animals, but we may miss out on a lot of what God shows us about ourselves without them around to help in the illustration. This is just an example about why I think dogs make for great spiritual object lessons, and for the value that I – as Adam’s descendant – see in being a caretaker of these critters.

Today’s subject: Maggie.

Ashley can attest to the fact that I’ve gotten much better about not referring to Maggie as “her dog,” especially since we got married and moved to Miami. However, she still thinks that I only call Maggie “her dog” when she acts “bad” (like, going outside to eat grass only to regurgitate it on the carpet that was JUST cleaned), but that’s not the case – in my mind, I call Maggie “her dog” because of the context of who raised her. Anyone who’s ever seen Maggie and me interact knows that there is a love between us that is just amazing, and she’s very much “MY dog” based on that.

I type all this only to say that it makes me laugh a little – and a little sad – when Maggie acts like she doesn’t trust me.

Maggie HATES going anywhere in a car. She will pace and whine in the backseat the second that the car sets off and is in motion. She is horrible in the way that she acts and continues this tirade whenever the car has to start and stop numerous times, such as if, say, the car is in traffic and gets caught by lights or behind other vehicles. It’s not so much the rocking motion that the car produces, but it’s the fact that we’re not GOING anywhere. However, if the ride is smooth and there’s no stopping and starting involved (such as when we make it out onto the highway after driving in the city), she’s fine. She’ll start to watch the world moving by outside the window, and because she feels so safe and secure (especially since she can see me & Ashley – dad & mom – driving or sitting in the front seat), the little punk will fall fast asleep and not whimper or cry once. She’ll snore, as a matter of fact. And as long as the car is moving along smoothly, she won’t say a word. But God help us if we have to pull off somewhere along the way. Any interruption to the smooth ride causes her to think the world is starting to end.

Once we get to wherever our destination is, once the car comes to a complete stop and she sees US starting to get ready to move, she will again start to stir in the backseat – pacing and crying, but this time with anticipation. She will start to get crazy excited, smiling as only a dog can smile, forgetting all about the “trauma” of the journey. “Trauma” is in quotes, because from my point of view, the journey wasn’t traumatic at all. I just saw it as the path we had to go on. Maggie will also get so excited that she’s at the end of her journey, that she will seriously forget about me, the one who got her from Point A to Point B – all she wants to do is get out into the world. – well, she’ll forget about me until it’s time to eat or go to the bathroom. Then, when the necessities are needed, it’s time to go crying to daddy again.

[Starting to see the parallel to, say, you or me here…?]

When Ashley was in graduate school, Maggie spent a good deal of time living away from her and living instead with Ashley’s mom. Maggie well remembers where Ashley’s mom’s house is, because she starts to recognize – purely by instinct – any time we’re driving there and we get about three to four blocks away from her house. Maggie goes insane in the backseat of the car, because she’s headed to a location that she knows, someplace familiar to her. She might’ve hated the idea of going on this journey – so much so to the point that she’d try to sabotage the trip to a degree by either getting sick in the backseat (knowing we’d have to stop to clean it up – and before you ask, yes she is both that smart AND that manipulative) or complaining a lot during the journey, both in an attempt to get me so frustrated that I’d stop the path we’re on and turn around to go home – but the joy of getting where she was headed completely overshadows the pain of going there.

Now, here’s the kicker: even though Maggie remembers this as a good place to be (plus, she’s so thankful that the journey is OVER), she also remembers that she was “left” here. Because of this, once we open the door and let the caged beastie out into the world, she will honestly try to dig her paws into the concrete outside the house to keep from going in, for – I suppose – fear that I’m just going to dump her here because I’m so frustrated after the journey of getting to this place.

I know where I’m leading her, and I know that it’s a safe place – a place to rest, and a place with treats for her. I also know that I’m not going to abandon her here. However, she doesn’t believe that. She sees this house, a place she’s familiar with, and she thinks that she’s going to be left behind. She doesn’t take into account that fact that – hello! – I am standing right there with her. As a matter of fact, were it not for me guiding her into the house, she would just run free with reckless abandon, probably headed out into the traffic.

There have been times that I have been led by God to go back someplace I don’t want to go – either to go physically or emotionally – someplace that hurts, and, like Maggie, I fail to notice that He is with me on the journey there.

There have been periods during my walk that I have left God to go frolic or play in the traffic – but He never left me. There have been NUMEROUS times that I have been on this journey and hated the experience of getting to wherever I am supposed to go – so much so that I have even tried to sabotage the experience by being lazy (never reading the Bible or talking to God or others He has placed in my life), complaining a lot, or ignoring God (just as Maggie is keen to do to me, especially when I say the word “no.”).

And, just like Maggie, I will be so thankful when the journey is over – that the long ride with all the starts and stops that made me complain and whine about the path is done with, that the smooth ride that I took for granted a lot of the time during the ride was for my own edification. I’ll be so gratified to see that the journey is “over” – only to find that God has one…more…place…in mind for me to go.

The difference and the challenge I’m learning is to actually let Him guide me, and to trust in Him. Me? I neither want to return to vomit or to folly.

‘Cause both of ‘em are gross.

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