“A NEW ADDITION”
July 12, 2009
He was adopted into our family last April and has been a source of near constant irritation ever since. You think I would have learned after previous such adoptions led to heartache and frustration. But no, I had to try it one more time.
“We just can’t put up with him anymore,” my daughter explained over the phone. “With a six-year-old son and a daughter entering the ‘terrible twos’ I don’t need another little one following me around the house vying for my attention. After he dug up my strawberry plants for the second time we came to the decision that he needs to go. I feel sorry for the little guy but I never really bonded with him. Would you and mom consider taking him in? At least that way the kids would get to see him occasionally when we come to visit you. I know they will miss him terribly.”
Reluctantly, against my better judgment, we agreed to the exchange and our family added one new member. I’m speaking of a ten-month old puppy, a reddish-brown, miniature dachshund named “Jabba” (as in “Jabba the Hut”). My grandson, a Star Wars fan, named him. He is two feet long not counting his tail but stands only eight inches high at the shoulders. His out-of-proportion body looks as though someone dropped a heavy weight on his back and his four legs all telescoped in on themselves. I admit that his comical appearance adds to his cuteness factor. Unfortunately, we also have to deal with the nuisance factor.
On his first evening with us he managed to poop in our living room, tear into the trash cans in four different rooms, and escape outside the front door which precipitated a ten-minute chase through the neighborhood. Once he was finally captured he decided to whimper all night until my wife, Babs, finally gave up and slept with him downstairs on our couch. Jabba’s first night with us left me wondering why my daughter took so long to get rid of the incorrigible beast. I pictured her in her home laughing fiendishly at the thought of pawning off her worst nightmare onto her unsuspecting parents.
A few days later Jabba managed to ingest something toxic in our backyard which forced us to rush him to the emergency vet hospital. A few hours and $1,600 later he seemed to be fully recovered. My nerves and our family budget, however, are still suffering from the shock. Meanwhile, the unruly border has shredded our patio screen door, chewed up multiple socks and shoes, vomited on our bedroom floor, and bitten my finger. To top it all off he seems to have an insatiable appetite devouring anything in sight he is able to chew up and swallow.
So why do we still persist in keeping him around? I’ll admit there certainly have been times when I asked myself that question. The only answer I can come up with is, unlike my daughter, Babs and I have both bonded with the little guy. There is a definite tug on your heartstrings when you arrive home to find him absolutely beside himself with joy at your arrival. He whines for us when we’re gone, waits for us expectantly until we return, and lavishes unabashed love upon us when we’re reunited. He begs to jump into our laps, rests at our feet, and insists on being continually in our presence. Being totally attuned to our voices he runs to us when he is called and wags his tail at the touch of our hands. Along with all of the aggravation he has brought into our lives he has also brought an unfailing source of love.
Last night as I fumed in anger over the second time in a matter of hours Jabba managed to get into the bathroom trash my thoughts turned to another Master who is forced to continually deal with a bunch of unruly, undisciplined, incorrigible adopted members to His family. How does God manage to put up with us? We consistently stick our noses into all sorts of garbage even though we’ve been scolded time after time when we do so. We also have a tendency to chew on things not meant for our consumption and to swallow toxic beliefs and unhealthy doctrines which has cost God dearly. And when someone leaves a door open anywhere we are prone to wander away from home.
We have pooped all over God’s creation and the foulest language frequently gets spewed from our mouths. Our lives are spiritually out-of-proportion, long on worldliness, short on godliness. Our appetites for sin are seemingly insatiable. When we don’t get our way we whine. When another family member from another pack gets too close we bark. And when things go wrong in our lives we blame God and lash out at the hand that feeds us. So why does God still persist in keeping us around? He certainly has far more patience with me than I exhibit with Jabba. The question of God’s unfailing grace is all the more puzzling when we consider the extravagant price which was paid for our adoption. Adding Jabba to our family cost us nothing up front. That certainly wasn’t the case when God added us to His family.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” – 1Peter 1:18-19.
I’m not saying that we are merely pets in God’s eyes kept around for His amusement. Indeed, we are highly treasured by Him and adopted into His family as children and full heirs. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” – Romans 8:15-17.
Our Master purchased us and accepted us into His family knowing ahead of time how unruly we would prove to be. Realizing this makes me desire to be as unashamedly loving toward God as our new puppy is toward us. Unlike Jabba we have many ways in which we can express our love to the Master. We have the privilege of communicating with Him directly, although we don’t often avail ourselves of the opportunity. Sometimes I picture Satan laughing fiendishly at how God gave up so much for a pack of rebellious, sin-prone, spiritually ungainly, too often ungrateful humans. But then Satan never bonded with us. For some inexplicable reason, God has.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1John 4:10.
Could it be that God’s primary motive for lavishing His love upon us is to elicit our love in return? Why else would He put up with so much abuse from His adopted children? Yet how well are we actually returning His love? Are we beside ourselves with joy when we come into His presence? Do we yearn for Him, wait expectantly for Him, and shower Him with unabashed love when we are united with Him? Do we beg Him to allow us to sit in His lap or rest at His feet? Do we insist on being continually in His presence? Are we attuned to His voice and run to Him when He calls? Do we lift our hands to Him in praise when His Spirit touches our heart? Along with all the aggravation and grief we cause the Almighty do we also bring to Him an unfailing source of love?
When Jesus was asked which is the most important commandment, is it any wonder He answered with the command to love the Lord? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” – Mark 12:30. We spend so much time and effort attempting to obey all the other commands and directives found in God’s Word and yet we fail to come close to accomplishing His highest request. We try so hard and fail so miserably at keeping our behavior in line with Scripture. I wonder why we don’t put forth as much effort at simply loving God.
To be sure, Jabba’s actions are nowhere close to being disciplined. But his love has found a way into our hearts. I hate to be chastised by a four-legged, recalcitrant beast, so I figured I would pass along this canine candor to you. May we all learn to exhibit as much unrestrained, unabashed love for our Master as Jabba displays toward his.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? – Psalm 42:1-2.
Bill, a child of God panting for His Master