To my St. Luke & Shipman families: Consider yourself forewarned that this is yet another story of Isaac my dog. Perhaps one day I won't talk about him quite so much. But for now--he's my greatest insight to the loyalty and faithfulness of God. Thanks for listening (and reading) patiently with your pastor who is a first-time dog owner.
Yesterday afternoon, when I opened the door to let my dog, Isaac, in the house, a surprise greeted me. Splattered on the white fur of my beautiful, gentle, cuddly, affectionate labrador retriever was blood. I froze.
"Isaac, what did you do?"
He wagged his tail and leaped in a joyful dance--the opposite of my tone.
I ran into the backyard, in search of the victim of my dog's apparent "crime." In the near distance, I saw what looked like the remains of a bird. It was lying near a bone that Isaac had been closely guarding for over a month.
I went back inside to find Isaac even more excited--jumping on the papasan chair, running around the sunporch.
"Isaac, why did you do that?! We do not kill God's creatures. Bad!"
He came and sat at my feet, tail still wagging, eyes still bright. I was well-aware that he had no idea what I was saying. Then my thoughts turned from anger to fear. Did he eat part of the bird? If so, how much? Would he get sick? Wasn't there some kind of bird flu around years ago that poisoned dogs?
And worse than that--had my dog turned violent?
I wiped the blood off of him, took deep breaths, and continued my lecture on kindness and the beauty of all God's creation. But I couldn't let go of the fear and anger. So I left Isaac on the sunporch and went inside to call my parents. When I told them what their "granddog" had done, I was not pleased with their reaction.
Dad: Well, he's a lab. They don't like it when their territory is threatened. Especially when a bone's involved.
Mom: He's a hunter. It's in his nature. Have you cleaned up the mess yet?
I got angrier as I hadn't even thought about clean-up of the unfortunate prey. They were not helping me to justify this fear and anger. After a while, and probably tired of listening, they suggested that I call a friend with dogs and get his or her advice on how to handle Isaac's hunt. So I called my boyfriend, who has far more experience with dogs like Isaac than I do.
His response, also, did not please me.
"Darian, he's a
As I voiced my fears of bird flu and violence, he turned to sarcastic humor.
"Haven't you taught Isaac the Ten Commandments yet? 'Thou shalt not kill' is pretty important."
"Uh-oh. Isaac's become a murderer."
"You do know you'll be held responsible for Isaac's sins."
Only slightly amused, I asked timidly, "Please tell me you're kidding?" He laughed and had me laughing soon, too, echoing what Mom and Dad had said. There was no reason to be angry or afraid. Isaac was simply being a dog.
This morning, I faced the task that I'd put off long enough: cleaning up Isaac's mess. I walked into the backyard and approached the crime scene. As I got closer, I was shocked. My years of watching
Law and Order
obviously did not make me a very good detective. The victim was not a bird.
It was a mouse.
I had been so caught up in my own fear, anger, and lack of understanding that I had not seen the whole picture. I had only allowed myself to see part of the story. I had jumped to a conclusion based on what I could see from a distance. It was only in getting closer that I could see more clearly why Isaac acted on his instinct.
How often do we do the same thing in our spiritual lives? How often do we get angry with one another or find ourselves in fear, only to find out later that we didn't know the whole story? How often do we search for reasons to justify our fear and anger only to discover that there is no justification? So many conflicts arise from not "investigating" why certain events occur. We jump to conclusions, we point fingers in accusation, and we become afraid. We also realize that there are so many things we just cannot control. I can't always keep Isaac from acting on his instinct to protect, and we can't control how each other will or will not act.
Friends, let us not be so quick to judge. Let us not be so quick to fear. Let us not be so quick to get angry. There's often more to the story than we first see. Let's listen to one another. Let's be slower to anger and slower to speak. Let's not try so hard to control.
As I walked back in the house this morning, the unfortunate mouse laid to rest, I smiled at Isaac. He wagged his tail furiously. I hugged him and said, "You knew how much I disliked mice, didn't you?"
I am not lying when I say that my dog winked and smiled at me.
all good things to each of you,