Thursday, January 28, 2016

happy dogs don't bite

Our sweet rescue dog, Lexie, was a delight to our family. Our hearts broke when she died in 2012 from a fall that severed her spinal cord. She left us with sweet and precious memories! This devotion was written a year before she died and was published in Totally Devoted 2.  

 “A happy heart makes the face cheerful.”
(Proverbs 15:13)

This morning I took Lexie, our adorable, adopted rescue dog for a long walk/jog. She has endeared herself to our family so much that we joke she’s an adopted sister of our daughters Grace and Mary.
Lexie is black and weighs 19 pounds. She a pug/terrier mix and a very happy dog who is well-fed, well-groomed, and overall very well loved and cared for by our whole family. She knows it, too. She’s a contented, happy, obedient dog. She wants to please us and is a delight to our family. Lexie wholeheartedly trusts her caretakers, so she’s very content and secure.

BAM! Right there is an analogy of how God wants us to be with Him; fully trusting Him to tenderly care for us, to provide for our every need, which then makes us totally content and secure. We have peace when we are trusting God. “A heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30).

Lexie is so obedient that I’m able to let her run alongside me without her leash. I’ll only put it back on her as an act of courtesy when I see we are about to meet fellow joggers and walkers coming at us from another direction.  As soon as we pass, I take her off the leash and she stays near me as we make our way down the sidewalk than runs parallel to the neighborhood's golf course. Today as we approached an older couple, I put Lexie's leash on her as a courtesy until we passed by them. I jokingly said, "Look out, she's a vicious dog!" The lady smiled, looked down as Lexie and her smile grew and she said, "I don't think so." Her husband smiled, too. 

My comment was funny to me because I realize how much truth was in this whole life application: Lexie is happy and secure and would never growl or bite anyone. She doesn't even seem to want to lash out at someone with a loud, threatening bark. She is always happy to see others and is actually child-like in her behavior. Frankly, I think she is like the description of the verse, "A cheerful heart has a continual feast," (Proverbs 15:15). The NIV Bible commentary on this verse says, 'Life is as joyful and satisfying as the days of a festival."

What about the rest of us? Are we enjoying the life God has given us? Are we so cheerful that we are spreading that joy into the lives of others? Yes, I realize the Bible is talking about people, but dogs are also God's creatures and I believe He uses everything to speak to us and teach us about Himself and His ways.

Our dog entertains our family with her happy heart, and it’s contagious. She’s giving “life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30). That’s the way it should be with all of us. We should be contented, secure, joy-filled people who are so filled with Christ-centered cheer that our countenance and Spirit can light up a room.

I thought about people who will bite off our heads in anger, impatience, and fear. When we have people growling at us in response to something, it’s obvious they are unhappy. Some people get so mad, they noisily bark out their responses to us. If we ever get to that rabid, vicious attitude of a stray dog, we should ask ourselves where our anger and impatience is coming from? 

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." (Proverbs 15:30). Think about what happens to us physically, mentally, and spiritually when someone smiles at you. God has designed us to respond in all these ways. Its hard not to smile back, isn't it? I think that's why He says, "A merry heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). It's for the whole body...our own and His body of believers.

Happy dogs don't bite. Happy people don't either! 

For His glory,
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together!"
Psalm 34:3

This devotion will be included in the 
upcoming Kindle edition 
of Totally Devoted 2.