Devotional 4/21- Dog Tales

Today is our second installment of "Dog Tales: Life Lessons from Dogs." 

Whenever I think of a family dog, I think of Jazz.  Jazz was a lab-retriever mutt we got from a neighbor in the winter of 2001.  The neighbor had taken in a stray who promptly gave birth to a liter of 7 puppies.  We had recently had to put down one of our two dogs, and for Christmas my parents arranged for us to get one of these puppies.  

So one cold day in January, my dad and I walked down to pick out a dog.  However, when we walked into the driveway, my mom whipped in in our car.  She said my older brother, was at the ER with probably broken wrist (it actually turned out to be shattered, but that is a story for another day).  So instead of having my dad to help pick the perfect dog, dad went with mom and my younger brother was left with me.  He was eight at the time, and useless for picking out dogs.  He sat in the corner and played with the dog toys.  

So it was down to me.  I had planned to get a blue eyed puppy mostly because I always wished I had blue eyes.  And I knew that we were getting a female dog but that still left a few puppies.  But as I sat there, a little brown eyed dog crawled into my lap and went to sleep.  In that moment, all my plans halted and I knew I had found our dog.  Or more specifically she had found us.  

I remember carrying her home that day.  I had this ridiculous white puffy coat and I had her tucked into it but I could still feel her shaking.  We took her home, settled her in and proceeded to love her and care for her.  

Jazz grew into a beautiful dog.  She was pure white with long fur that we buzzed in the summer making her look like lab.  She was our first inside dog and she was perfect.  Jazz was loving, she was obedient, she was fun.  She was the perfect dog for our family.  She lived to be 16 years old and even though the last year was hard as her health went down hill, no one begrudged her accidents, costs, or pain because she was simply part of our family. 

Funnily enough I started this devotion to write a different point but as I was writing, something else struck me.  I did not pick Jazz.  Yes, I did say I would take this one.  I did stand by my decision when my parents questioned her brown eyes (I had been previously weirdly adamant about blue eyes).  However, Jazz picked me. She made that first step into my lap and let me feel her capacity for love and trust.  

The thing I did right was that I was open to her and to changing my mind.  I was wrong in what I thought was important in a dog.  And it turned out right a million times over.  It turned out Jazz was the healthiest of the puppies. Many of them ending up dying between 6 and 8 years old (you know you are all in on a dog when you keep up with their siblings even though strangers had them).  But more than that Jazz just fit with our family.  Even her quirks, like that she would not eat unbuttered popcorn just like my dad, worked in our family.  

There are things we plan in life and there are things that go as we anticipate.  But I have found some of the best things, are the things I did not really plan or that I planned differently.  And I think this is true of not just my life but many.  There are times that  the unplanned happens and it can be better than what we thought was going to happen.  However, we have to be open enough to see the new direction and to be willing to change.  Sometimes we seem to think that changing our minds is the sign of weakness or decisiveness.  However, it can just be that we are strong enough and brave enough to accept that something else has come that opened a new direction, led us somewhere new, or even proved we were wrong.  Changing our minds, can lead to amazing joy, adventure, love and more. 

Being open to the unanticipated or being willing to see there is a better way than our are key to being good Christians.  Because the truth is God's plans are always better than ours!  And it is often when things go in a different direction than we planned that it becomes amazing.  But we have to be open and brave enough to see the signs and to change direction.  

I think of Moses.  I often feel a little bad for Moses.  Sure he grew up pretty entitled and then murders some guy (you could say self-defense but I think regardless it weighed on him) which causes him to lose all that he had known as his.  But he is living what seems like a good life in Midian.  He has a wife and at least one son and has a fairly solid place in society.  And most likely he has life planned out.  But then God shows up, and wrecks it all.  And despite all his reasons why not, Moses eventually follows God's plan.  Which leads to Moses performing amazing feats in the name of God, freeing the Israelites and leading them for many years.  

While we are not often called to be Moses', we are presented with God's plans.  Plans that we find reasons why we should do, or why it should not be us, or even just try to ignore.  Which given free will is our choice.  However, when we change our minds and our plans amazing miraculous things can happen.  

Today I invite you to read Exodus chapters 1-4 and chapter 15.  Note Moses reluctance.  All his good reasons to stick to his plan.  And then notice his song of joy in chapter 15.  A song that is only sung because of the acceptance of God's plan over his own, and Moses' willingness to change his plans and follow God.  Then I invite you to pray that you may be open to hear God's plans, to follow a path that is not of your design in order to follow God.  Pray to see God's will in your life, in our church life, in your family life, and in our communities.  And then open yourself up to letting go of your plans, of what you think matter most, what you think is best, and instead find the courage and strength to changed directions and go with God. 

With Love, 

Beth