Friday, February 25, 2005

Hounding God

We have two dogs. One is a stray who literally came to the door and adopted us. The other is a purebred. The stray we didn't know what we were getting. She was still a pup and we really couldn't decipher any specific breed characteristics from looking at her. Kind of like pot luck in the school cafeteria -- you don't know what's in there! But the purebred dog came with papers and a breed history featuring specific traits so we would know what we were getting ourselves into. But sometimes even that doesn't prepare you.

Harvey is a basset hound. In every sense of the words, he is a basset hound. Straight off the box of Hush Puppies. Long body, long ears, droopy face, too much skin, red around the eyes, short-legged, feet pointing outward, basset hound. Bassets were built with a purpose. They are built to track game, so that snout of his is extremely sensitive to smells. Any smells. Any faint odor at all. This dog will sometimes stand and sniff, apparently on the trail of a Brontosaurus or a Wooly Mammoth since I sure can't see any recent animal evidence. Everything with a basset is geared towards the nose. Even the ears are long so that they drag the underbrush to uncover more scents for the hound to sniff and follow. He is not ruled by brain, by heart or by sexual desire -- it's all about the nose. That also means that he's happy to come right when I call. . . as long as he isn't busy smelling something. And as I've said, he's ALWAYS smelling something!!

It can be frustrating. I've owned dogs most every day I've been alive. All kinds of dogs. And the common factor in all of them is that they love to be good. Pleasing me is usually high on the canine priority list. Maybe that's why I like dogs so much. But Harvey loves to be good. . . as long as isn't busy smelling something. That means he has other priorities. The basset list of importance begins with whatever is at the other end of the nose. It doesn't matter how much I work with him, the nose has to come first, even when I'm standing outside in sub-zero weather calling for him to get up to the house from the woods. I can yell and scream, jump up and down and call him names and he still smells every last inch of ground, thus slowing his re-entry into the house, and also delaying the beginning of my thawing. Why can't this dog work on my schedule, doing the things I tell him to do? He's MY dog!

It's odd. I go through this with my dog, getting him to do what I want, when I want it. Then sometimes I find myself doing the same thing with God. I tell Him what I want, when I want it, and I have the nerve to be surprised when it doesn't happen. Like God is my faithful retriever or something. And when I catch myself in this mindset I feel like Homer Simpson on a brilliant day.

In my teens group, we've been studying the temptation of Jesus. Before Jesus got started with His ministry, He was led out into the desert for 40 days. After a while Satan came around to test Him to see what kind of Messiah this Jesus was going to be. Can He do miracles? Is He into power trips? What makes Him tick? So Satan finds Jesus in extreme hunger and tells Him, "Why don't you make bread out of those stones? I know you're hungry." I've never been as hungry as a man who hasn't eaten in over a month. If I were, I just might eat my way through leftovers from Fear Factor just to get something in my belly.

But that's the situation Jesus was in. And Satan wants to see if Jesus will show him a miracle. "If you're really the Son of God. . .," that kind of thing. Will Jesus do a parlor trick to prove who He is? Not on your life. And He didn't. You see, Satan said, "You can't really be who You say You are if you can't do this to feed Yourself." Jesus put Satan on notice that you can't hound Him into doing something to prove His identity.

I know people who don't believe in God. Actually most of them admit that they just don't know or that they just don't want to think about it. But the major item holding them back is that God won't do what they want Him to do. "How can God be God if I have cancer?" "How can I believe in God if He won't get me out of debt?" "Why should I believe in God if my life is a mess?" "How can there be a God if there is so much evil in the world?"

Why would we think that God is only God if He behaves as we want Him to? Why would God have to justify His actions to us or to validate Himself to us? Why do we think that God should obey us like the family dog?

Doesn't God want us to be happy? Yes, but happy in Him. Sometimes when we ask God for something, His answer is "no" -- not because He's being mean or because He can't do it, but because in His wisdom He knows it's not the right thing. We can kick and scream and call Him names and it won't help. We can jump up and down like a two year-old and it won't matter. But the best part is that God will comfort us, even when He tells us "no".

Still I know that there will be times when God disappoints me. There will be occasions where God doesn't do what I think should be done.

I hate it when I treat God like a dog.


seeker of truth said...

This was great....all of it...and the part about the Basset, we had one Addie Mae Bassett and I never knew it was the smelling that kept her from coming to us when we called we just attributed it to her very STUBBORN nature, sweet but stubborn...and I can recognize stubborn because I was stubborn a very very long time about just how much I needed Jesus...I thought I HAD God growing up in the church I didn't NEED Jesus....stubborn and hardheaded...believe me she didn't get any better in her old age but Thank God I think I am....

rev-ed said...

I'm sure Harvey has some of that stubbornness too. Stubbornness isn't contagious. We contracted it at birth.

MaryAnn M said...

thanks for the encouragement on my blog..
and here is a joke:
this is a cute joke:

Q. What do you get when you cross an insomniac, a dyslexic, and an agnostic?

A. A person who lies awake all night wondering if there's a dog!

ba,dum, chhh!!

Teresa said...

I linked here for the 1st time after reading the NOT CRUNCHY thing. You are refreshingly honest and I like your writing. I'll be back.

Not Crunchy said...

What a great analogy - I can see why you're a minister. I'll admit that when something really bad in the world or my personal life happens I think that there is no way there can be a God who cares about us. But then there are moments, like in the story you talked about yesterday, that make me wonder.

Oh, and good joke, maryann! :-)

Not Crunchy said...

Hi rev-ed, I'm sorry to contact you through a post with irrelevant information, but didn't see an e-mail address. I have linked to you on my blog - I hope that is ok with you. Also I went to (trying to type in your address by memory) and there is a truly bizarre posting there. I'm sure you've seen it. It made laugh when I realized that some people looking for your site might come across that and think that you've lost your mind. :-)

MegLogan said...

Telling it like it is. I love it. I am also realizing in my own life that you cannot manipulate God. God is God. He is Who He is. Not only can we not manipulate God, but we cannot decide that what God does is good or bad because ALL definitions of good and bad come from God. I recently came across a post in response to Samantha's questions to Not Crunchy, the post was from a woman named Cassandra. ANyway, she had another way of relating dogs to God, which basically stated that if she can treat her dog better than God treats man, then God is bad. Unfortunately we are frequently lead astray by the sad state of the world, if there is evil and God allows it then God must be bad. THis is illogical thinking, and it ignores the Biblical reason for the evilness of the world. SIN...

WEll, I am grateful for your website. Come visit my new blog (just starting out myself so it isnt too good yet.)