We have a brand new puppy at home – a rescue pup we’ve named Charlie. I’ve heard people say that dogs are aware that they’ve been rescued. They have some kind of intuition that let’s them know they were once lost (or abused, neglected, abandoned) but now found. And most importantly, loved.
Our little guy was likely dumped and was found wandering the streets in a nearby area. He’s still a young pup, teething and all. As I’ve been spending hours working with Charlie over the past week, I’ve been giggling at how much he’s like an actual baby. He needs naps, protection from harm and so much attention and reassurance of our dedication to him. It brings back memories of when my now teenagers were toddlers. And it also makes me laugh to hear myself teaching, knowing that God could say many of the same things to me.
The first and most important lesson is trust. It happens over time and with consistency. Just like Charlie needs to know that we can be trusted to care for him, we need to trust God’s character in relation to ourselves. He knows everything – past, present and future. He is sovereign over all creation, and He wants the best for us. When I say it out loud, it seems unfathomable that I would ever try to do anything without Him! And yet I do. I trust myself too much, and I fail to go to Him first or to believe every word He says.
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.(Psalm 9:10)
One of the best ways to gain trust in the Lord is to get to know Him better and more personally. I do that by spending time daily learning about His unwavering character and steadfast love for us. The more we understand about Him and His commitment to us, the easier it becomes to go to Him and fully trust Him with the details of our lives.
A resource that is currently helping me on this journey of understanding is The Bible Recap. The free plan includes a daily chronological reading assignment followed by a short podcast that unpacks and clarifies what you just read. Y’all, it’s fabulous. I’ve read through the Bible before, but not like this. Truthfully, I’m finding that I’ve missed so much, and I’m so eager to receive these beautiful new-to-me-truths every day! Each day, the host brings everything back to who God is by emphasizing, “He’s where the joy is.” I see it more and more every day, and it’s encouraging me to release my grip on life. I highly recommend!
As we build trust with Charlie, it’s almost impossible to un-link it from love. The two are so naturally woven together, and the same is true with God. Perhaps the greatest reason to place our complete trust in Him is because He loved us first (and always will). He won’t ever harm us and even more, He made the biggest sacrifice for us, sending Jesus to die for us.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.(1 John 4:9-10)
Because God wants a relationship with us, and He wants it to last beyond our human lifetime, He made it possible through faith in His only Son, Jesus. There is no greater love. It is not a love that’s earned through works or perfection. God makes it crystal clear that while we were still sinners, He sent His Son for us (Romans 5:8).
Make no mistake, we are loved simply because we are a life created by God. That’s all. If we’re alive, we’re loved. And if we seek to know Him, we will find Him and His love. We can rest in that, and we can enjoy a close relationship built on love. Just as the most loyal of our four-legged companions remain close by, protective of their owners and unconditional in their love, they are but a glimpse of God.
If there’s one thing that’s obvious about a puppy, it’s that they like to play and have fun. Charlie is so easily excitable and eager to engage in a game of fetch or tug-of-war. If we’re willing, it’s game on! But he doesn’t understand that you can’t chase, bite or tug everything. Chasing a car could be catastrophic; biting an electrical cord would shock him; tugging an object from above might bring the weight of something heavy crashing down on his head.
It reminds me of when my kids were first crawling and walking. It was scary to let them out of my sight, because I knew they needed my protection. They had no idea of all the dangers around them. During that time period, a friend gave me the advice to say “danger!” instead of “no”, so my babies could differentiate this warning for their well-being. It was such an important distinction, and while I don’t yell “danger” anymore, I hope my teens understand the boundaries they have are for their good.
God offers similar guidance for our lives. It’s not to rob of us joy or laughter, but to protect us from pain and suffering. God wants to us have wonderful lives, but the enemy enjoys twisting that idea, offering a counter-argument that God is stealing our fun. Jesus squelches the claim quite directly.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:10
While some might be under the false pretense that the Bible is just a book of rules, those who have spent time in the Word can attest to the fact that it offers tremendously valuable guidance for life. The Bible offers sound boundaries (“danger!”), but be assured, God loves fun – it’s actually a gift from Him, like every other good thing in life.
Also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.(Ecclesiastes 3:13)
And I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.(Ecclesiastes 8:15)
These words above, written by King Solomon (known to be the wisest man ever) are a recommendation to embrace joy and contentment to lighten the journey of life. He knew the value of using what God has given us to strengthen and refresh us…but he also knew that the greatest fulfillment we can have is only found in God – not in things or good times.
As I continue to help Charlie adjust to our family, my prayer will be for all of us, too – that we would be aware of our rescue and that would be able to receive all that is intended for us in the family of God. May we trust Him, know that we are loved and enjoy fun with grateful hearts. We have been saved from this fallen world!
Mighty God, You are our Rescuer! We are no longer lost, but found in You and loved unconditionally. Remind us, Lord to trust You and to look to You as our Father – our family. Draw us closer, so that we may find all the joys of life You intend for us. With every puppy we see, help us to be reminded of Your fun and Your salvation in our lives every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.