Friday, November 2, 2012

Dogs and faith

Scout, Thursday afternoon, up on the golf course
Yesterday evening, walking through the house taking care of all the “before going to bed” details, I noticed that Scout Labradoodle was watching every move that I made. She positioned herself in the kitchen where she could see everything simply by tilting her head one way or the other.
Take out the garbage. Set up the coffee pot. Pour Rebekah’s glass of water. Lock the doors. Shut down the computer. Brush my teeth. Turn out the lights. Just a slight turn of Scout’s head, or subtly rolling her eyes one way or the other, but nonetheless carefully tracking my every move. It was like she had a mental checklist of everything I was supposed to do and she wasn’t going to settle down in her favorite night-time spot until I was done.
Scout, late Thursday evening, watching my every move!
EXPERIMENT! So I tried an experiment. I skipped one thing – or rather changed the expected order – and it wasn’t more than a couple of minutes before she let me know I was out of line. Typically, between brushing my teeth and turning out the kitchen lights, I give Scout a very small snack.
So I brushed my teeth, and then immediately turned out the kitchen lights before sitting on my side of the bed like I was getting in. A few seconds later a large dog-nose poked around the corner; then Scout stood in the doorway, wagging her tail; then she came all the way in, sat in front of me, staring me down; finally a single “woof!” followed by a distinct tilt of the head.
“Dad! Dad! Dad! You forgot something, didn’t you? Dad? Dad? Dad?”
And I was struck by how well Scout knows my routine, how patient she is, and how much she trusts me to come though for her in the end.
So I gave her the late-night snack, of course, and then she fell into the pattern of her after-snack routine: Drink water ferociously, sneak up on and pounce her favorite stuffed animal: jump onto our bed and push the slobber-soaked toy into our faces; settle down with her head hanging off the side like Snoopy’s vulture impersonation; then slide off like a Slinky when the lights go out and flop, with a big sigh, right in the middle of the fresh pile of clean clothes from the dryer and then – after being chastised – making herself comfortable for the night on the cool tile floor at the bedroom door.
POWER OF ROUTINE: I thought about how readily we invest ourselves in the comfort of routine; and I thought about how grateful I am that love, and family, and encouragement, and peace are all ironclad constants that I can count on…
… And then I realized how foundational my faith is to the definitive patterns that help me make sense of my life. And that – ultimately, it doesn’t matter what other routines are in place so long as my relationships and my home is anchored in Jesus.  ”Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells” (Psalm 46).
So I slipped out of bed, patted Scout on the head, and climbed back in again. I went to sleep with the sure faithfulness of God and the love of my family as the sweetest lullaby I could possibly know.

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