Archive for July, 2010

If you know me, or have read this blog before, you might have heard that I own a new puppy.  Even though he’s still just a puppy, he is starting to behave.  It’s been a while since the last time he peed in the house (a milestone I am very happy about), and he’s listening to commands better every day.  All in all, things are improving.  We are starting to build a real friendship, and the future looks promising.

Here is the problem.  Every night I dream a dream.  It’s always the same dream, too.  I am standing in a room in the house, and Gabe is looking at me.  He gives one of those looks where he tilts his head to the side while maintaining eye contact.  Then he turns away from me, and it happens.  Every night.  Same dream.  He starts peeing on the carpet right in front of me.  He knows he’s not supposed to do that.  He saw me, acknowledged me, but yet still decided to relieve himself as he saw fit.  He knew it was wrong.  He knows it is wrong.  He did it anyway.  I wake up from the dream mad and confused.  Hey, why did he do that?  He knows better.  What a bad dog.  What a stupid dog.  Eventually I remember it’s a dream, and after a few minutes, I go back to sleep.

The other day I was thinking about my recurring dream and how it kind of angers me to that my mind keeps playing tricks on me.  I wondered why I kept dreaming the same annoying dream.  I just don’t understand why my head is stuck in this loop.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just a dream.  Gabe knows better.  He isn’t doing that anymore.  He has the self control to go to the door and wait for me to let him out.  He knows it’s wrong to pee inside, and he doesn’t want to upset me.

Then it hit me.  My dream is about me, not my dog.  It’s about my relationship with God and how I respond to Him and His standards.  My three month old puppy understands what it’s like to be a Christian better than I do sometimes.  He knows that he needs me.  I feed him, provide shelter and love.  I also provide the structure and the discipline that he needs to be a good dog.  He sometimes gets a little scared and he looks like he feels a little guilty at times, but when I smile at him and spread my arms, he comes running to me.  He knows he’s forgiven.  He’s learned a boundary, but he knows that I love him.  He doesn’t want to do anything to make me mad.  He loves it when I love him.  He loves it when I am happy with him.  He doesn’t enjoy me being angry toward him.  The whole idea seems pretty straight forward to me.  And from my perspective, it should.

Why can’t I be more like my dog?  I know what God wants, or at least a lot of what He doesn’t want, from me.  I know the boundaries He has set for me.  I know that they are there to provide me safety and to help me, not to hurt me.  He disciplines for my benefit, not for my detriment.  I love it when I am doing what makes Him happy, but I don’t hate it when I’m disobedient.  I don’t run into His open arms like Gabe does with me.  My dog seems to have a better relationship with me, than I do with my master.  I think I’m more like the dog in my dream.  I don’t think I’m alone, either.  I think most of us put up with our own disobedience far too easily.  What do you think?

My church sent out two missions trips this month, one to Mexico and one to West Virginia.  Both were set up to server others, to help those less fortunate.  In this modern, middle-American society, we have many blessings.  We have money, time and numerous other resources.  We can accomplish pretty much anything we want, kind of like our parents always told us.  There are many reasons we choose to stay comfortable and apathetic, but that’s a different post for a different time.  The point for this post is that we have choices to make concerning what we do with what we have.

There are many people in the world, as well as in this country, who do not have access to the same resources as the rest of us.  There are people living in poverty and have no real way to lift themselves out.  There are even more who just don’t believe they can lift themselves out, but again, different time-different post.

While most of us are worried about having a new pair of shoes that match the color of our new shirt, or getting a new car because the old one is last year’s body style, there are people wondering how they’re going to find food tomorrow.  There are people who have no idea how they’re going to fix their leaky roof, or if they’ll ever be able to buy a car and not have to ride a bike or take a bus to work.  There are people who wear the same clothes to school every week because their parents cannot afford to buy more.  There are people who lack the resources necessary to meet basic needs, let alone buy any luxury items.  Like most of history, the problem is there are the haves and the have-nots.  The solution is very simple; those of us who have, we need to give to those who have not.

Jesus said it is simpler for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.  The problem isn’t having money, it’s the tendency to hoard what we have.  We put our faith in our things, especially our money.  Jesus said we need to lose our life to gain life.  How are we supposed to serve both God and money?  We can’t do both.  If we want to serve God, we need to be willing to give what we have to those who have needs.  There are many people who live this way, but I think we can do better.  Actually, I know we can do better.

I am very proud of those who went to West Virginia and Mexico.  We even had some high school students on the trips.  Some people would argue that with the money spent on plane tickets and all the accompanying costs to travel, it would make more sense to send cash and stay home, but I don’t think it’s that easy.  There is something that happens when you leave your life behind for a while to help others.  Getting up out of your house, your neighborhood, even your country, to help others is so beneficial.  It shows people that you care when you spend time, money and energy to visit and help.  You prove that you care about them; that they are more than just a line item on a tax form.  Going away to help others in different cultures also leads to self discovery.  When I went to West Virginia a couple of years ago, I learned that I do have a lot of stuff, and that I am very focused on material things.  I am now working on relying less on those things so I can use what I do have to help others.

Hearing from those who went on the trips this year, I heard the same sentiments from 15 year olds.  If only I understood the value of truly helping others at that age.  Hopefully, the students who went on these trips will remember what they learned and continue to help and serve others.  Hopefully I will, too.