Ever since I adopted my wonderful puppy, Willow, last November, God has been using her to teach me a lot about myself and my relationship with Him. I’ll give my roommate Jocelyn the credit for coining the phrase that we say daily in our house: “we are all Willow”. Her (Willow) relationship to me has helped me put myself in her shoes…bear with me here. Willow and I have a child to master/mom relationship. I am not at all relating myself to God, because I am not perfect or even close to being like God, but it’s more that I’ve been able to look at Willow and her behaviors, and see aspects of myself in her. There are three big things that I notice about my dear pup, that I can apply to me walking with Jesus.
- She thinks she knows what’s best for her.
Something that I tried so hard to avoid when rescuing a dog was getting a young puppy. I wanted it to be easy, coming to me perfectly trained. I realized how selfish and unrealistic that was especially with rescue because I had no idea the life they had before they got to the shelter. The first thing Willow did when I met her was jumped and nipped me in the face. It has been a long yet rewarding process watching her learn and respond to me. Even still, she knows better when not to do things. Whenever I leave the house for a while, she will try to find anything she can eat or chew on. She knows that she shouldn’t be counter surfing, but she wants to do it, so she does, and then I come home and she is so ashamed. In my relationship with Christ, I think I know what’s best. I try to control my time and the plan for my life. I go back to things that I know is going to hurt me in the long run because it’s what I want, and then I come to God ashamed of messing up. He doesn’t want us to feel shame when we mess up. He loves us. He’s taken care of our sin on the cross. He knows what’s best for us, and we have been set free from the bondange of sin. It doesn’t have a hold over us, God still has us.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you reap leads to holiness, and the outcome is eternal life.” Romans 6:22
We are living in the now and not yet, the process of sanctification is that, a process. When I come home and Willow can’t look at me and cowers in the corner, first, I laugh because she looks ridiculous, but then I call her into my arms and I pet her and tell her it’s ok. We think we know better, but God is the one who we can trust with our lives. God has what’s best for us. Even when it doesn’t make sense, God knows what we need that will bring us closer to Him, and help us to grow. He loves us.
- She lets fear consume her.
Most of these past 8 months with Willow, she freaks out if I leave her presence. When I would go get ready for the day and she’d sit out in the family room with Nayra last year, she would whine at my door just laying there wondering why in the world I left and thinking I was never returning. She couldn’t see me, so to her I was gone for good. I abandoned her in her time of need (which is always). This past year has been a really tough one emotionally. My team had experienced unimaginable loss, and it just seemed like bad things kept happening. I started to live more in fear than in peace and trust of God. As I headed to Ocean City for summer mission (which will have to be a whole other blog post), I lived in fear of the next bad thing happening. I wondered if I would experience something horrible, and I sat in that for the first couple weeks. Thankfully God was using the Word and people in my life to speak truth and encourage me so my perception of “waiting for the next shoe to drop” was removed and God gave me peace in my heart.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’.” Romans 8:15
- But, she knows the sound of my voice and listens to it (mostly) because we spend so much time together.
I chose Willow to be mine, and that gave me the responsibility of loving her and raising her well. The only way she was going to listen to me and trust me was if we spent time together and I showed her how much I cared for her. She had trust issues when I first got her because the shelter picked her up after living on the street for a while. Because of the time I’ve invested in her, and because she loves me so much, she can differentiate the sound of my voice from anyone else. She recognizes me as her dog-mom. She chooses to be with me rather than other people sometimes because of who I am to her. She comes running to me when I call her.
With God, spending time in His Word is so important because that is how we get to know His voice. We have the Holy Spirit in us to guide us and teach us, but lies can get into our heart too. We can get truth and lies jumbled up if we aren’t spending time knowing God and knowing his truth. That was a theme for our women’s time in OCMD. Truths and Lies. Being able to believe truths deep down in your heart, not just as head knowledge, is key to combatting the lies we hear every day. We need to spend time with Jesus to know His voice. By knowing His voice we can cling that much harder to the truths he speaks to us in our heart when everything around us is cutting us down, telling us we are worthless and no good for anyone.
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.…”John 10:27-28
We are all Willow. We think we know what’s best for us, and we turn to fear. Thankfully God is in control. He loves us and knows what’s best. He gives us peace. We can know his voice by spending time in His Word and sitting at his feet.
This is Willow trying to be a part of the blog writing process yesterday. What a goof. <3