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Raising a puppy is a lot like raising a baby – lots of fun, but lots of work.  You have to keep an eye on the doggy at every moment, especially while she’s learning that going potty is for outside only!

ImageWe received a puppy when our youngest daughter graduated from high school a few months ago.  It was a gift from one of her close friends.  Surprise!  She then had to leave for Alabama for a few months for a summer job, so John and I became the mostly happy, sometimes reluctant, often exasperated parents.

If you’ve potty trained a pet, you know that you’re supposed to watch them for any signs of impending…you know…and then whisk them outside cheerfully saying “outside! outside!”  Eventually they get the picture.  

Keeping a sense of humor is helpful, because otherwise you might lose your cool when you see your spouse scooping the pup in his arms and rushing towards the kitchen door, while the doggy drops little doo doos all along the way.  “Keep laughing”, we tell ourselves.

I have learned more this time around, though it’s still hard for me, not to punish or yell at Shade (our puppy) when we find a pile or a puddle that happened while we were not in the room or not looking.  

They say it does no good to punish a dog after the fact.  If you don’t catch them in the act and correct or redirect them then, it won’t serve any purpose to be mad at them later.   To rub their nose in something that happened a few minutes ago is not effective.  They won’t understand why you are angry.  

I have been practicing, therefore, being calm and sweet even when I find a mess, like just this morning when I found several little piles in the family room.  Shade actually walked over to me looking sheepish and kind of walked me to where they were with her ears back.  I think she knew she had done something she wasn’t supposed to.  But instead of yelling “Shade!  What did you do?!,” I took the paper towels and spray and cleaned it up, petting her and loving on her.

I’ll just have to watch her more carefully.  Gotta stay close so I can catch those teachable moments.  She IS learning.

It may seem irreverent to draw an analogy between doggy doo accidents and our relationship with Jesus but I see one.  The Bible says that God doesn’t punish us as we deserve, he doesn’t remain angry, he forgives and puts our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west.

We may hesitate to approach Him sometimes.  We might stand in our own pile of doo, shoulders drooped in shame and face downcast, expecting Him to be disappointed or angry, only to find that He is reaching his arms open wide, inviting us to come closer and be loved.  Even if He has to help clean up a mess we’ve made, He won’t rebuke us or cast us out.  We may have consequences to learn from, but that’s different than having a Father who holds a mistake against us in anger.  We need to stay close to God so we can hear Him in the teachable moments.

God has every right to be angry with us for what we’ve done wrong.  If it weren’t for Jesus making the way for us by taking all of our punishment voluntarily, we would have no hope whatsoever.   If you already know Jesus, take a minute to remember what a gift He gave us by doing that, and thank Him.  Remember that God’s posture towards you is always love and acceptance.  It’s amazing love!

If you don’t know Jesus yet, consider Him.  Read about Him in the Bible.  Talk to someone who follows Him and step closer to Him.  You can live in the light of God’s grace and love instead of judgment and condemnation.

If you are covered in Christ’s sacrifice, you never have to be afraid to draw near to God. He won’t yell in a booming voice, “WHAT did you do?!”  He will forgive you and love you.

I think I will go lovingly pet my puppy now.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
    nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
    he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
    is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.  Psalm 103:8-13 NLT

…there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:1