Saturday, March 01, 2008

Come when called

My annoying little puppy really sent me into orbit last night. (This is an expression one of my high school teachers used to say!)

It was about 12:30 a.m. when I awoke to the sounds of puppy barking. She was outside on the patio. Apparently, none of my kids had put her in her hutch or taken her to bed with them as they normally do. I put on my robe, trudged to the back door and opened it. She stood about 1 foot away, but wouldn't come in. This is the "dance" she and I do all the time. I had to go to the cupboard and get my poor dog a milk bone to get her inside. Then the chase continued. She's like a greased pig -- impossible to snatch hold of. Finally, I trapped her between a chair and the wall and grabbed her, depositing her immediately into her dog hutch.

We had a similar incident last week when she crawled through the fence into the neighbor's yard. Three of my children and I -- two of us on one side of the fence, two on the other -- spent a good 15 minutes trying to corral her back into our yard.

The problem? SHE WILL NOT COME WHEN CALLED.

Disobedient little chunk of flea fodder! She's a miniature pinscher, just smart enough to escape the label "stupid," but stupid enough to get called this name repeatedly nonetheless.

I told my younger daughter, "You have GOT to teach Ginger to come when called. Ruby NEVER does this. (That's our outdoor mutt.) When I call Ruby, she comes to me!"

I will now make the jump from "anecdote from Tammy's life" to "some kind of comment about God" by drumming up a few scripture passages. The only problem is, some times when I do this, my Pastor leaves a comment on my blog that, "What the scripture is saying here is...." Either I apply it with too much license or make use of a translation that isn't quite "on the mark" with the original Hebrew or Greek (depending on the passage). (But let me go on record as saying that I love my Pastor and am perfectly happy to have him do this....)

Now where was I? Oh yes. Hmmmm ... to whom shall I compare my almost-stupid dog?

In terms of obedience (or lack thereof), I'll compare her to Jonah. We all know the story. The Lord told Jonah to go to Ninevah and preach repentance to all of its evil inhabitants, that they may be spared the Lord's coming wrath. Instead, Jonah buys passage on a ship in the opposite direction to Tarshish.

I wonder if the Lord responded with the same kind of exasperation that I was feeling last night when Jonah hopped that ship to Tarshish. Sort of sounds like it....

"Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up...." (Jonah 1:4)

Clearly, the Lord was not pleased and was doing what was necessary to get Jonah out of the boat and back to Ninevah. He doesn't exactly hold a dog biscuit over Jonah's head, but that 3 days in the belly of the fish seem to do the trick.

In some ways, Ginger and the disciple Peter are cut out of the same cloth. Another habit my dog has that is related to not coming when called is coming halfway then dashing in the opposite direction. It's as if she wants to be obedient, but then is overcome by another instinct.

The Disciples are in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a nasty squall brews up. The Bible describes them as "straining at the oars." Jesus is back on the shore, but begins walking out to them on the water. Upon seeing him, they take him to be a ghost and cry out even louder.

27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"


Peter wants to be obedient and faithful. He makes a stab at it ... his best human attempt. But his own doubts and frailty get the better of him. Of course, I would never suggest that these kinds of complex emotions are fluttering through the brain of my stupid dog. Her thoughts are more like this: "Go in, no back up, no go in, no back up, no run away."

But as for me ... yeah, there are times when I'm thinking "go in, no back up, no go in, no back up, no run away." LOL.

We could probably all benefit from a min-course in obedience training to make sure we remember what we're supposed to do when God says to us, "Come." Like Peter, we may have the best of intentions and then find ourselves gripped by fear or doubt. Or perhaps we justify our disobedience by giving it another name: overcommitment, weariness, inexperience, discomfort, etc.

I like to think that when Jesus made skin-to-skin contact with Peter and hoisted him up out of the water, the feeling of "You saved me" must have been paramount in his mind. It's that realization of being saved and by whom that should drive our obedience, propelling us to come when called.

Copyright 2008 Just Enough Grace Publications

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