Some of you who have read former devotionals of mine might remember my beautiful Shetland Sheepdog, Elsa. I've already recorded a number of lessons that she has taught me, and some of you may be saddened to hear that she is no longer with us. She developed a fast-growing cancer, and in a matter of 3-4 weeks, she went from being a vibrant, healthy dog to not being able to stand. In the aftermath, as I reflect on my beautiful dog, it occurs to me that perhaps she had yet another lesson to teach . . .
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Heb 12:2-3)
If you have ever owned a Sheltie, you will relate to what I am saying, for what I am about to describe is a characteristic of the breed. Elsa followed me literally everywhere I went! In the kitchen, she followed me from the sink to the fridge, to the stove, and back to the sink. She followed me into the bathroom, she patiently waited for me outside the shower (I guess she did have her limits!), she even followed me into the closet when I got dressed. Because I am an active person who is also becoming a bit forgetful, and because we live in a 5-level house, Elsa's personal goal to follow me everywhere certainly got her plenty of exercise! But she never got discouraged. She just "doggedly" followed me up and down the same set of stairs -- five times, if necessary!
Elsa's greatest joy was being near me, and it was a real bonus if she could get me to talk to her. When I sat down, she would come and put her muzzle on my leg. If I didn't pet her, that was okay. She just wanted to be as near to me as she can be. And if her greatest joy was being near me and hearing my voice, her worst nightmare was to be separated from me! She didn't mind so much when I wasn't home, but if I was home and she wasn't with me, it was a real punishment! In fact, I learned that this was the ultimate way to discipline her! When she was naughty (which was seldom!), I scolded her and either locked her out in the garage or down in the basement for a few minutes. Then, when I let her out, she would become the most remorseful dog you will ever hope to meet. AND she generally didn't try THAT particular trick again!
Now, being as active as I am, I didn't necessarily like having a dog constantly under foot. I can't count the times I accidentally stepped on her tail or her paw because I didn't know she was there. Nor can I count the times I nearly tripped over her. And sometimes, you just don't feel like being "watched" all the time, even if the "watcher" is only a dog! I often told her to go follow someone else. She won't, though. She was far to loyal for that! I was her mistress, she would have no other.
You can probably guess just what lesson can be learned from this loyal dog! You see, the Bible tells me to be just like my dog! Only, the One I am to fix my eyes is Jesus, the author and the finisher of my faith! "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Heb. 12:2,3)
If only we could all be more like Elsa in our relationships with God! Just as she was always watching me, following me around, doing everything in her power to get me to pet her and talk to her, I need to be always watching God! I need to follow Him around, doing everything in my power to please Him! I need the loyal nature Elsa displayed. I need her unconditional love, her loyalty, her patience. I need to keep my eyes fixed on--and only on--Jesus!
Love in Christ,