Vol: 30 Issue: 26 Friday, March 26, 2004
We got a puppy last week. It was not an easy decision — we lost our ol’ pal, Droopy Dawg, to cancer in 2002 after nearly fourteen years of constant companionship.
We weren’t even planning to get a puppy — it just sort of happened. About all we had agreed to was to walk through a couple of pet stores and see how we felt about it. Besides, if nothing else, we’d get to pet a lot of puppies — is there anything more fun than being accosted by a passel o’ puppies?
They were all adorable — they are puppies, and Gayle and I are dog-lovers, with all that implies. We wanted to take them all, but there wasn’t one in particular that stood out from the rest.
By about the third pet store, we had pretty much decided we’d seen all we wanted to see, and that we just weren’t ready — yet — to make the committment. The pain of losing Droopy was still fresh in our minds — indeed, about the only thing we had decided firmly was that we would select a smaller breed with a longer life expectancy than ol’ Droop.
It was in that third pet store that our world was changed. The puppy room was separated from the main store by a petting room, so that the puppies could see us through the windows but were in fact two rooms away.
They were rows of cages of cute little puppies of various breeds, all vying for our attention. One of them, I noticed, seemed quite disinterested in the whole exercise. While the rest of them did all the things puppies do in pet shops to attract attention to themselves, this one just laid there, looking bored. I thought she might be sick.
We looked at them all, and didn’t really see anything that grabbed us. After a few minutes, they all calmed down, and as we turned to leave, the disinterested one sat up, looked me straight in the eye, and barked once.
I asked the clerk to bring me that one.
She was an ugly little thing, a cross between a poodle and a beagle, but when the clerk handed her over, she crawled up, put her head under my neck, sighed once, and relaxed. She had picked her owner.
She is a great little dog — er. . , since she weighs 7 lbs, maybe I should call her a ‘doggette’. We took her to the vet, treated the inevitable infestations one expects in a puppy from a pet shop, bought her a little bed, a collar a leash and she became part of our family.
We housebroke her before suppertime that day. When she figured out what we expected of her, and went to the door to signal her need, I let her out, remarking to Gayle that she was a little ‘Einstein’. We thought we had found her name.
The dog didn’t care for the name, and wouldn’t acknowlege it. Old habits die hard, though, and several times, without thinking, we’d slip and call her ‘Droop’ — to which she would respond immediately. She became Droopy Two.
The other day, I was sitting with the little bundle of fluff on my lap, thinking about all the puppies we looked at. I wondered what happened to them, since, as I said, I am a dog-lover. I loved them sight unseen, but the one I wanted wasn’t the one I chose — I would have been happy with any of them, I’m sure — it was the one that chose me.
That was what made her special — that was what made her, for want of a better word, ‘worthy’ of inclusion in my family, to the exclusion of all the other puppies that I loved unconditionally simply because they were puppies.
The thought occurred to me that it was analogous, although not a perfect analogy, to my relationship with the Lord. The Bible says that God loves all men, but not all men will become part of God’s forever family. Only those who choose Him.
‘Choice’ is very important to God. That is why He imbued us with ‘free will’ — we are created in His Image, and in His likeness, but we can choose whom we will serve.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. ” (Joshua 24:15)
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18:32)
Scripture says that the issue of choice is a two-way street.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”, writes Paul to the Romans (3:23)
But those who choose to accept the free gift of redemption secured for us at the Cross will not have to stand before the Righteous Judge clothed in our sins.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:22)
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:26-27)
Once Droopy chose us, and we chose Droopy, she became part of our family. From our perspective, it is an unbreakable contract. Hers, too.
We can expect at least as much from a loving God. If we choose to accept His gift.
“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:2)
An unbreakable contract.