In this day in age there are not many shepherds, so it may be difficult for us to imagine the Lord as our shepherd. One thing we probably can relate to, however, is owning a pet. Let’s just skip owning a cat because we don’t really want to use cats as role models for following…they kind of lack the ability to follow unless a bowl of fish is involved.
When asked to meditate on Psalm 23 this last Sunday I recalled a photo my sister posted of her dog Bruiser. A few things you must know about Bruiser is that he is a crazy hyper, little Min Pin with giant ears (now you know why they are usually clipped) and enormous adoration for my sister and niece. He just cannot get enough attention from his human family, which was even documented on a video my sister shot of him lying on the bed. His tail would slowly wag, but as soon as she would glance his way his tail will bounce from side to side like a metronome set to the fastest tempo.
Psalm 23 describes a person through the metaphor of a sheep, following God and obeying Him, and in turn receiving many blessings, even in times of hardship. Don’t you know, that even when Bruiser is punished he knows a treat is soon coming. Even when he doesn’t know where my sister is taking him, he doesn’t fear because she is with him and has his best interest in mind. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Why should we fear if it’s just a shadow? Because we don’t realize it is? Bruiser trusts that my sister knows the difference between a shadow and the real thing.
My point is, if a little min pin with attitude can trust and obey and reap great rewards in doing so, how much more can we? And how much more will God provide great rewards?
When I shared this with my sister she shared about a message she recently heard from some pastor friends who travel the U.S. preaching the gospel (or gossip as one of my Sunday School students said). Their dog takes part in their ministry, and recently they had to take the dog to the vet. When looking at the dog’s eyes they noticed a cataract in the shape of a heart. The vet told them that the dog’s vision is now heart-shaped. Dogs constantly keep an eye on their master. They are curious and hopeful creatures, begging for more when you’ve given all the treats. Isn’t that the way we are? When we see through the lens of love, we see that all we have is enough, and all we need is our Master.
It is not often I write about pets because I don’t have any of my own. Not many landlords in the Bay Area allow pets, but I get to enjoy others’ pets and they truly teach me so much. Every moment has the potential for joy, hope, anticipation, forgiveness, the list could go on and on, but in our humanness we forget the simplicity of all of it. This week I hope you feel free to pant for God’s attention and follow His every step. You are sure to receive many treats.