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Sunday, January 3, 2016

God spoke to me...through my dog

First, I need to clarify. When I say God spoke to me, I'm saying this symbolically. I didn't hear thundering words from heaven, but the message was loud and clear. And He used my faithful pooch, Riley, to deliver the message.

Dog breaks curfew, steals car, goes on binge

It was around midnight, and I was sound asleep. I was awakened by the sound of my 16 year old daughter rushing up the steps. She barged into my room, "Dad, I need help! Riley puked all over!" Did I mention that I was sleeping, and doing a pretty good job of it?  
Image result for dog driving car images
"Hey babe! Orange Julius run. You in?"

I reluctantly grumbled out of bed, got somewhat dressed, and slogged down to the scene of the crime.

Our living room carpet is light beige. It was now light beige with orange polka dots. Riley had puked up three big bright orange pools of something. There were no chunks. It looked to me like he had snuck out, drove to the mall, and binged on Orange Julius. It apparently was so good that he wanted to come home and share it with the rest of us. He's really thoughtful like that.

As we started to clean, I bent down over the biggest polka dot - about a 12" circle - and I noticed something. About a third of the top of the pool had been neatly skimmed off. Riley had come back for more. Apparently Orange Julius is still pretty tasty even when mixed with some tummy acid.

Then it happened. God spoke to me. As I was down on my knees scrubbing away, He flooded my mind with this Bible verse,

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly." (Proverbs 26:11)

God could not have used clearer symbolism to speak to me. But it wasn't just Riley puking that God used to get my attention. The timing of the message was also key. I couldn't wiggle out of this one.

My folly

Just a few hours before Riley passed God's message on to me, I was a fool repeating my folly.

That evening I was watching something on TV I shouldn't have. Something that I'd watched off and on for quite some time. Something I knew deep down wasn't right, but I easily justified it and watched anyway. (Just in case you're wondering, it's not porn. It has to do with violence.)

But like Riley's return for Orange Julius seconds, I came back for more TV upchuck, even though my conscience told me not to. Sure, I enjoyed watching this stuff, but the guilt that was associated with it wasn't enjoyable.

I was obviously being stubborn about this. But God knows how to get our full attention. And sometimes when it gets to that point, it's not pretty. I should have done the right thing earlier, but I didn't.

The position of the message (pool of puke) is also important. Riley's largest Orange Julius deposit was about four feet in front of my La-Z-Boy recliner, where I usually sit to watch TV. And it was about four feet in front of my TV. Pretty much right smack in the middle of my living room. I cleaned the stain as well as I could, but it's obvious something happened there. The remnant of the message on my carpet is like a scar reminding me of my folly.

God prunes us and changes our hearts

Every smelly, gooey swipe of the paper towel reminded me of my sin. I felt bad, but I knew God was right, and that He truly wants what's best for me.

When we understand that what God does for us and to us is always based on His love for us, that makes God's discipline and pruning easier to endure. With this mindset, we know we'll become better people - more like Jesus.

Now when I'm scanning the TV guide using my remote, I'm not drawn to the violent shows like I was before. God changed my heart and my desires. When we get our joy from God, He gives us what we want, because our wants line up with His will.

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

It's personal

The fact that God gave me this message shows me that He's interested in the details of our lives, and that He'll speak very personally to us. He cares.

Is there something in your life that God's been trying to get your attention about? Is there something you need to add or remove from your life? It could be a person, a thing, an attitude or something else.

The question is, "Are you and I paying attention to God?" Will you and I listen and do what's right sooner or later? We'll see.

A prayer for myself and for you is that we'll all be more tuned into and obedient to God.


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