Aside from the excitement of our newest family member, I learned a lesson today. And I learned it from my dog, Phoebe.
I took a train home this morning so I could be there to welcome Stephen into the family. Later on in the day, I was walking Phoebe. Phoebe is the kindest dog I have ever met. And the expression "social butterfly" is an understatement for her. Whenever she sees someone new, her tail goes crazy and she gets so excited. Therefore, she pulls me to go meet this new person so she can say hi and let them know that she'll love them forever if they pet her. Due to the length of our walk, this happened quite a bit today. Normally when she does this, I just try to pull her along and then tell her that she shouldn't do that. However, after she did this the last time, I laughed to myself and just said: "Pheeb, you're good for me." I realized that each time she pulled me to say "hi" to another person, she brought a smile to whomever she was greeting. Because of her, I was forced to talk to these people. I was forced to go out on a limb and ask how they were doing or to make a conversation with them. Normally, I wouldn't have a reason to say a word to these people. But Phoebe gave me a reason. She gave me a reason to love. Then I continued to walk and pray and I couldn't help but tie Phoebe into Christ.
One thing that I love about Phoebe and most dogs is that they don't care who you are; they will love you no matter what. And they will always be there to greet you with nothing but excitement and love every time you return home. They don't judge you. They don't care what you've done, where you've been, or how far you've fallen. They will look at you with those eyes and a wiggly tail and a face that just says, "I love you and I'm so glad you're home!" And Phoebe gets so excited to meet other people as well. What would happen if we got so excited to meet another person? That every time we greeted them we showed them that we genuinely wanted to meet them and that we cared. That we won't judge them or let what they've done influence our opinions of them. That no matter what, we just love them and that we let them know that their loved just by being eager to meet them. I don't know about you, but when someone seems to be excited that I'm there, I can't help but feel so loved. So why not be more like dogs and just love? Maybe I need to be more like Phoebe? Or maybe we need to be more like Christ. Doesn't the love that dogs have for us pale in comparison to the love that Christ has for us? He loves us SO much that He rejoices every time we come home to Him.
"The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable.“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance." - Luke 15:1-7
Pretty powerful, huh? Christ Himself would leave all of the other sheep, just to find you. And when He finds you, He won't scold or rebuke you. He'll greet you with excitement and say: "My child! You're home!" If you think dogs get excited, I can't even begin to imagine how much more excited Christ would be when we come home to Him. If there has been something that has been keeping you from Christ or if your faith has been shaken, I pray that you find peace and joy knowing that when you come home to Him, He will great you with the greatest of greetings. I don't know where you have been or how much pain you have felt. But I can assure you that there is peace and healing in Christ. I know this because I lived it. (That's for a later blog post.) God will hold your heart with the same hands that created the universe. He will provide a way out so that you may be able to bear what ever it is you are going through. "No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it" - 1 Corinthians 10:13. He will heal you. He will run to you. He loves you. God. Loves. You. Yes, you. He wants you home. So come home to Christ.