Insight from Isaac (And The Rotten Bone)

Two years ago, I gave Isaac a bone from one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten.

He danced and chewed and wagged and panted and chomped and smiled. I watched him trot around the back yard, searching for the perfect burial spot for the prize dangling from his teeth—which still had some meat on it.

He clawed at the dirt under a bush, paused, observed, and walked on. He dug a second hole, but it too did not meet his satisfaction. He finally found the perfect spot and returned to me with no bone and a pepper-black nose. Both of us slept soundly that night, and one of us completely forgot about the bone.

This past Monday evening, at the end of my weekly Sabbath, Isaac set out on his nightly investigation of the backyard. I kept one eye on the television and the other on the white dog against the dark sky. I saw the familiar stance of him digging in the dirt. When he turned back towards me, something was in his mouth. I assumed that it was one of the rawhides he’d buried at Christmas time.

Erring on safety’s side, I grabbed the flashlight and put on my slippers. I stepped carefully over leaves and twigs towards him. I said, “What you got there, bud?”

Ask a dog a question, and his eyes will always answer.

Isaac looked at the flashlight with a mixed response of, “None of your business,” and “I’m going to need some forgiveness later.”

Dearly beloved readers, because I want for you to continue reading this blog, I will not describe what Isaac found. You’ve probably figured out by now that he was the one who remembered the steak bone’s burial plot from two years ago.

I grabbed him by the collar and pulled him towards the house, flashlight flailing into a strobe light as he struggled against me. After securing him inside, I disposed of his old, rotting, and not-so-buried treasure.

9 Then the Lord stretched out his hand,
touched my mouth, and said to me,
“I’m putting my words in your mouth.
10 This very day I appoint you over nations and empires,
to dig up and pull down,
to destroy and demolish,
to build and plant.”

(Jeremiah 1:9-10, Common English Bible)

Prior to this passage is a verse that we paint in babies’ nurseries and hear in ordination sermons—God calling the prophet, Jeremiah, with the words, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

That’s the pretty part of the story. Then the hand of God shows up—and calls Jeremiah to dig.

Answering God’s call to serve is a mix of the beautiful and the messy. Alongside Jeremiah’s words that plant are his words that tear. Alongside the hunt for treasure is the discovery of the rotten bone. A yard that is green and blossoming on the surface may have dangerous decay underneath that we need to uproot and throw away.

Like Isaac, sometimes we don’t want to throw away what can hurt us. We bury our pasts only to return to them—instead of moving forward. God desires to accomplish so much through us as his servants, his mouthpieces, his Church.

Why do we waste time moping when we could go digging for even greater treasure?

I did not enjoy ending my Sabbath with disposing of a rotten bone. Yet I am relieved that my yard is cleaner and my dog is safer now.

Kingdom work is not always pretty or pleasant, but it is always good—because the King works for our good.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian