Finally, one of my life’s perplexing questions has been answered. It’s a quandary that’s been rolling around in my mind ever since I promised myself I would never watch Old Yeller again. (Google it, youngsters.) Here’s the question: Why do I love dogs so much?
For a long time, I’ve suspected the answer, but confirmation came recently when I was reading my favorite daily devotional book New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. In the entry for July 26, he asked: “What are the three questions that everyone has asked and is in someway haunted by?”
Tripp’s answer: “1) Will I be loved? 2) Will people tolerate me once they really get to know me? and 3) Will I have what I need to live?” (That third question is irrelevant to this blog.)
Well, you can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? I love dogs because they answer the first two questions with an ear-splitting, affirmative yelp. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Bebo was nestled next to me on the couch in this moment of profound self-revelation.
You see, Bebo never rejects me, never judges me, never holds a grudge, is never cynical or sarcastic, never brings up my past sins, always has the best expectations for our relationship, and is ready to prove her devotion at the drop of a tennis ball.
Silly? Trite? I think not. In fact, something about Bebo reminds me how Scripture describes that Christians should treat each other: with love (John 13:34, 15:12 and many more) and devotion (Romans 12:10); with a genuine greeting of care and concern (1 Peter 5:14); with gentleness and patience (Ephesians 4:2).
Also, Bebo and I share something else that reminds me of the gospel of Christ – we are both the recipients of completely undeserved love. In fact, she sometimes commits unmentionable canine crimes that disappoint me greatly, but I could never stop loving her. Same goes for Christ’s love for me.
Maybe you think I’m pushing the illustration too far or that seeing the gospel through the love of a pet is simply inappropriate. If so, please forgive me.
But, I would argue that God’s creation is full of wonderful creations, including animals, all of which have been put here for the specific purpose of reminding us of the love of God in Christ for sinners.
At the same time I recognize that my dog illustration has it’s limits, and that I misuse God’s creation when I fool myself into thinking that a pet, or a spouse, or a house, or a job, or a hobby can satisfy the longings of my heart.
As Tripp says in another entry from New Morning Mercies, “The glories of the created world are meant to be glorious, but they are not meant to be the thing you look to for life. No, all the glories of the created world together are meant to be one big finger that points you to the God of glory, who made each one of them and is alone able to give you life.”