My Grace-Full Life

3.3.20 Praise & Prayer Prompt: What We Can Learn From a Dog

ANNOUNCEMENT ••• Join the private, online prayer group on Facebook! You’re welcome to post prayer requests every week, and on Sunday evenings, we’ll have a prayer, including prayer for a specific weekly topic.

TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 ESV)

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, we talked about some of the lessons we can learn from babies. Today, I want to discuss some of the lessons we can learn from dogs.

I admit — in the past, I would have never called myself a dog person. I have been a lifelong cat girl, hovering around the fringes of being labeled “Crazy Cat Lady,” but the most I ever had at one time is four (current situation, actually). Believe me—I don’t judge the women who have been given that moniker. I get it. I love them too.

But I accidentally became a dog person when I adopted our Labrador, Beth, for Wayne’s birthday in 2011. I had a learning curve to get through with her so it wasn’t an overnight love story, but goodness… I’m crazy about that dog now. But back then, I wasn’t used to an animal being so clingy. Because I work from home, Beth is generally nearby… either laying on the office floor or the hallway, but always within eyesight of me. And if I move to another room, she moves to another room too.

As I went to let Beth back in yesterday morning, I was struck by her facial expression. She is let in and out of the house multiple times a day and yet every time she is waiting to come back in, she has a look of hopeful expectation in her eyes. She’s waiting. I have to open the sliding glass door, cross the sunroom, and open that door, but she’s watching. Hoping I’m going to hurry. It almost makes me sad because the hope in her eyes makes me wonder— do you ever doubt that I WOULDN’T let you back in the house??

And then, despite her arthritis and bad hips… Her joy is unbridled as she bounds into the kitchen. As if she hasn’t done it 10 other times during the course of the day.

So… with all that said, what are some of the things we can learn from a dog? Many. But we’re going to focus on joy, hope, love, and being present.

JOY. You never hear of a dog who is naturally a jerk. Even when they are sick, when their person comes near, a dog will find joy… Joy comes so naturally for them. Even a dog who has suffered from abuse or neglect will find joy when she feels safe and loved. And no matter our circumstances, we are told to be joyful. In Philippians 4:4, it says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” If dogs could pick a favorite verse in the Bible, I think they’d pick this one! It’s effortless for them and it’s an attitude from which we can all learn. Because our person is Jesus! And He’s always near! We can rejoice in that promise!

HOPE. We can always have hope. Just as a dog expects the best from their person, so we can expect the best from our Heavenly Father. He is the very source of our hope! Even in the darkest of circumstances, we can embrace hope. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” It’s right there! What I love is that it doesn’t say we’ll be given a glimmer of hope… no, God will give it in abundant measure!

LOVE. The love of a dog is never fickle. They love without hesitation and without condition. It’s the kind of love we need to have. We need to first love God with all our heart, soul, and might (Deuteronomy 6:5), but we also need to love others… The way a dog loves no matter how much we mess up. A dog loves past our mistakes and you never hear of a dog holding grudges. In 1 Corinthians 13, we learn of what love is and in verses 5b and 7, it says, “[Love] is not irritable or resentful; Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This kind of love comes naturally for a dog; maybe they can train us.

BEING PRESENT. A dog isn’t worried about yesterday’s mistakes or tomorrow’s troubles. They are in the moment, savoring the time they have now. Few stories illustrate the importance of being present better than Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). And dogs are all Marys; you never heard of a dog being a Martha. So can we learn from this example too? To stop all the worrying about everything else and just be in the current moment God has given us?

Today, as you pray, thank God for lessons learned from even the most unexpected sources. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with joy, hope, and love! Ask Him to help you stay in the present, thankful for the gift it is.

PS: This image in today’s graphic is Beth…

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