I’m not an animal lover. I like the idea of a dog, I guess––having a trusty companion who always accepts you, waiting for you at the door when you get home with wagging tail. Car commercials with a man and his best friend packing up the camping gear on a mountain top at sunset looks idyllic to me. But, alas, I have yet to experience the romance in real life. The reality as I see it is that pets are animals in my home who demand my already too little time and financial support, poop in my yard without the social grace to dispose of the mess, constantly coat my floor and furniture with hair and dirt, and occasionally damage toys/electronics/carpet/cars, etc. And I’m supposed to love these things? We include them in family photos?
It will take a little set up, but my point can be made with an illustration from my morning commute: my Saturn Vue recently blew its engine. After much deliberation, I decided to have a go at replacing it. Thanks to great friends (Bruce F., Steve I., John B., Chris at Exclusive Auto, and my dad) I was able to resurrect the car and save the multiple thousands of dollars it would have taken to replace it with an equivalent vehicle. And as some of you know, when you work on your own car, you kind of fall in love with it. You are proud of your personal investment and want to keep taking care of it. I have been known from time to time to affectionately pat my dashboard after an oil change. So since I saved the car, I’ve really wanted to keep it clean, with step one being the removal of the giant chocolate shake stain in the back seat produced by my youngest daughter’s inability to keep anything holding liquid right side up. So two days ago, I whipped out the Kirby Vacuum, figured out how to use the sudser attachment thing and shampooed my back seat. It smells good and though not all the stain came out, it looks (and feels) a million times better. My car is running great and, as of this morning at least, was looking even better.
So this morning. I load my three year old stain maker into the car to take her to grandma’s for the day along with our dog. Because grandma loves our yellow lab Titus like he’s the fourth Douglass grandchild. I put him in the back on the mat meant for keeping his dirty, grubby, dew soaked paws in check. We drive. Just before the light at Red Arrow, Titus decides he doesn’t like the back anymore, jumps over the seat ON TO MY FRESHLY SHAMPOOED BACK SEAT!! Huge muddy paw prints all over. My heart rate is through the roof just recounting it. Freakin’ dog!!! Why do we keep you?! If anger in your heart towards pets is the same as what Jesus said about anger towards humans, then I’m a dog murderer.
I was honestly so mad. I know it’s a little irrational, but none-the-less real.
As I drove the remaining two miles to my mother-in-law’s, I kept glancing back at dumb Titus, then down at the muddy prints, with fresh sprays of red annoyance entering my head every time. Then I had the thought, “You know, you’re kind of like a stupid no good pet dog to God.” Another glance back at Titus, looking all sheepish, fighting the sense of conviction that was growing. “You don’t really do anything for God but demand His constant care and provision, now do you? And what you seem to be best at is leaving muddy Kyle prints all around and piles of sin in His backyard. And Who cleaned those up, by the way?”
I’m not sure whose voice I was hearing. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit or maybe it was just me (though it kind of had the tonal qualities of my wife). Regardless, I couldn’t ignore the reminder of the ridiculousness of God’s grace, and how amazing it is that though God does not need me in the least, and even though it took the blood of Jesus to scrub out the sin stains I left everywhere, He still takes delight in me. He still calls me his friend. Not for what I do or don’t do, but just because He loves me.
So I have a car that runs. I have a vacuum that can shampoo stuff. I have a dog that at least makes my wife, girls, and mother-in-law happy. And I have a God that loves me. And for all of that grace, I’m very thankful, and yes, a little less mad at Titus.