Life Lessons from Our Dog

About a year and half ago, we decided to get a dog. His name is Scout and he’s a rescue dog that somehow made it out to California from Arkansas. We think he’s a coon hound.

Growing up, I can never remember a time where we didn’t have at least one dog in our family. And yet, in all the years since I moved out of my parent’s home, we never had a dog in our family, until Scout came along.

Jen refers to Scout as the Notorious D.O.G. because he destroys things, like these potted plants in our courtyard.

A dog may be defined as a living, breathing tool of destruction. The list of things our dog has destroyed seems endless. He chewed up a wicker lounge chair as well as part of our back yard flowerbed drip system. He chewed up one of the lights in our backyard fountain and he’s dug enough holes in the yard that you might think we have gopher problems.

We now have a hole in our screen door that our dog assumes is his own personal doggie door, giving him freedom to come in and out as he pleases.

And of course, now that we have a dog, whenever we start to make plans to do things, we have to ask, “What are we going to do with the dog?”

In the spring, we left the dog outside for the day while we left to attend one of the boys track meets. We returned to find the destruction of most of the potted plants in our courtyard.

And yet, through it all, it’s hard not to love the guy. He’s excited to see us whenever we come home and he doesn’t hold a grudge when we get mad at him.

Recently, Jen enrolled Scout in an obedience class in the hopes of correcting some of his bad habits, like jumping on people when he gets excited and pulling on the leash when we take him out for a walk.

The trainer often talks about the need to correct the dog when training. It made me realize that life is often like dog training, with plenty of correction that leads to obedience and hopefully, transformation.

The first thing the trainer taught us is that the dog should not get ahead of you when walking, but should stay on your left. This is the “heel” command.

I think this is what the Bible means when it talks about keeping in step with the Spirit. It’s really a marching term. Yet, like my dog, instead of heeling, I often get ahead of the Holy Spirit and seek to venture out on my own, often in a direction that’s different than where the Holy Spirit wants to lead me.

The second command the trainer taught us is the SIT command. When we’re walking the dog, he should automatically sit whenever we stop. But when other people and other dogs are around, Scout gets easily distracted and sidetracked.

I realize that I often lose focus just like Scout. I often get sidetracked from the things that are most important and the things I’m called to do, and it often gets me into trouble.

scoutsmileThe third command we learned is the STAY command. When we tell Scout to stay, he’s supposed to stay in that posture (whether sitting, standing or down) until we tell him to come. When we first introduced this command, Scout couldn’t stay for more than about 5 seconds. But eventually, we were able to work our way up to 5 minutes.

I realize that I’m often just like my dog. I can’t stay where I’m at for very long at all. I’m impatient and I have a hard time just resting, thinking and waiting to hear the Master’s voice. More often, I move to action before I’ve clearly heard the Lord tell me to move.

The last week of training, the instructor held a contest, awarding points to each dog based on how well they obeyed all of the commands that had been taught through the course.

Amazingly, at the end of the contest, when all the points were tallied, Scout was declared the winner! He was even awarded a trophy to recognize his accomplishment.

It was a reminder to me that when we learn to Heel, Sit and Stay and we follow the Lord’s lead and command, we bear fruit in the form of character transformation and also ministry blessings.

Thanks for being a part of our journey, where the Lord is still training us to Heel, Sit and Stay.

Please continue to pray with us that the Lord would transform our hearts and bless our ministry as we seek to minister to Young Professionals in Orange County!

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