In Isaac's home, we hold these truths to be self-evident:
1. He has a lot of toys.
2. He loves all those toys.
3.. He does not like it when I mess with all of those toys that he loves.
A couple of months ago, I noticed that the collection had gotten a little ridiculous. Some were frazzled, others never touched. I thought of all the pups in the world who longed for a blue football or a stuffed lobster. I thought of the rich young ruler, whom Jesus told to give all his possessions to the poor. I thought of how cluttered Isaac's watch room looked. (FYI: The watch room used to be the dining room--because every good guard dog needs a whole room devoted to "watching" out the window.) I decided that it was time for the pastor's dog to make some sacrifices.
The task seemed easy enough. I would remove all toys that were overused or underused. Isaac was sound asleep in another room one Saturday, so I pulled out all the toys.
Squeak. Crunch. Rattle.
Cleaning out a dog's toy collection may be easy, but it's not quiet. As soon as Isaac heard the familiar sounds of play, he jingled to the watch room. The nap had ended, and I suddenly had an "assistant."
Unfortunately, our views on the toy collection differed. Those self-evident truths emerged as he stood between me and the toys. I grabbed the lobster, which he'd never touched before then. He jerked it from my hand and ran to another room to hide it. I quickly squirreled the blue football and a yellow pull-rope into a box while he was away.
Isaac may have mistook my clean-out effort as an effort to play with him. But I'm pretty convinced from the stern look in his eye that he knew what I was doing. One by one, he gathered toys and took them to various places in the house. I stepped on squeaking pumpkins and rattling hedgehogs for weeks after Isaac's hide-and-don't-seek game.
I managed to get a handful of toys in the box and surrendered the battle. We would have a long talk about sacrificial giving at a later time.
After the day of the attempted clean-out, Isaac's interest in his toys grew. It seemed that the threat of losing his toys had increased his appreciation for them. He played more often with more of them. He would nudge me to play with him. We even developed a bit of a schedule when I noticed a pattern to the times he would dig through his toys.
One of those rituals is that he picks out a toy and lies down on the floor with it every morning while I read and write in my journal. One day, he pulled out a watermelon.
The next day, he pulled out the Eiffel tower.
The day after that, he went for the hot dog.
As I looked carefully at each toy each day, I couldn't help but wonder: "Is there a message in the toys he's choosing?"
While I am not sure if there were deep, hidden messages in Isaac's daily selection from his toy collection, I do believe his actions taught these simple lessons:
Take time to wonder why.
Eat a hot dog.
I had cleaned out Isaac's toys because I thought that would be best for both of us. He thought that putting them all of those toys to use would be best for both of us. We met somewhere in the middle. The house is a little cleaner because of my decision. But the house is a lot happier because of his "decision."
The book of Acts contains many descriptions of the early disciples "coming together." The Church began not only by individuals making decisions but also by communities gathering to form each other's decisions. With the worship of Jesus Christ at their heart, the people who came together were richer as they learned from each other, sharing "with gladness and simplicity" (Acts 2:46).
As we make decisions and work on our many tasks, let us remember that God did not call us into isolated existences. He called us to learn from one another and to learn more about him through one another. Togetherness includes all of God's creation, especially the pets and plants and stars and waters that bring us joy. Perhaps we all need a spiritual watch room where we can pause to see God's glory in the simplest of playful moments each day.
all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian & Paw-stor Isaac