It’s nighttime. I’m housesitting. I’m at my dad’s. Taking care of the dog which is actually my dog, but he lives here. So maybe I’m actually just relieving my dad of dog-sitting for me. In any case, I’m here. There’s a backyard. A patio. A fire pit. And a beagle named Lou.
Lou just ate a junebug.
I’m reminded of how often pets reflect characteristics of their owners. Not because I eat junebugs. Though there was that one time. But because it’s late at night and he’s awake and playful. He’s a night owl. And often so am I.
Tonight is a beautiful night. 60*. Mostly clear skies. What few stars are visible in the city are shining brightly. It’s calm. I lit a small fire to sit by and soak in the night. It’s quiet. Lou is out exploring the yard. It’s one of his favorite things to do. He is all beagle. Sniffs all the time. Eats everything he finds.
From time to time it’s as if he realizes I’m out there with him and he comes running back to me. It’s a great feeling. I’ll pet him, tell him he’s a good boy and soon he’s on his way again. I like watching him go and explore and track. It’s what he was made to do. It’s who he is.
As his master, I am in charge of him. But he’s a beagle. He’s stubborn, strong-willed and independent. He doesn’t always do what he should. But as his master my greatest joy is not in telling him what to do or not. It’s not in issuing commands and demanding obedience. It’s the opposite actually. It’s in turning him loose. It’s in watching him go and do what he was made to do. And it’s in seeing him—when he isn’t told to—charging back to get attention from me.
Eventually he brings me a rope bone. He’s gone and gotten it out of the house. So I’m sitting in my lawn chair enjoying my little fire and throwing a rope bone into the night air.
Most of the time, he sees where it lands. When this happens, he runs it down and brings it back as fast as he can. It’s almost as if he’s racing himself. He’ll hand me the bone and eagerly await the next throw.
But sometimes he doesn’t see it. Sometimes I throw the bone in a different direction than he expected. Sometimes the bone gets lost in the tall damp grass. These are the good ones. When Lou doesn’t see where the bone lands, he puts his nose to the ground and starts sniffing. Like I said, he’s all beagle. He will trail that bone until he finds it. And he always finds it. His tail wagging randomly and excitedly the whole way. It’s as if he’s so enthralled with the scent he’s following he doesn’t have thought left to wag his tail in any sort of pattern or rhythm. He has a one track mind: to find what was lost, to do what he was created to do, he is being who he was created to be.
Then he finds it. He picks it up and triumphantly trots back to me carrying his trophy in his mouth. He isn’t running this time. He’s happily taking his time. And he is never prouder looking than when he sits the rope bone down at his master’s feet. And I am never prouder of him.
This is what Lou was made to do. To track. To chase. To retrieve and return. What once was lost is now found. And is brought back to the presence of the master.
What an illustration of God and us.
He is our master. He can issue commands and demand obedience. But his greatest joy is in freeing us to go and do what we were created by Him to do. To be.
We are to find what has been lost in the darkness. And we are to help them back to our master. And our master is always protecting us, guiding us, supplying our needs and… cleaning up our messes.
G.K. Chesterton says that God is like a small child with a jack-in-the-box. You turn the crank and out pops jack. The little child jumps and screams with delight, claps his hands and says, “Do it again!” So it is with the Lord and his creation. There was day and there was night. And He claps his hands in delight and joyously exclaims, “Do it again!” And there was day and there was night. And His creation goes and does what it was created to do; is what it was created to be. It’s a New Day.
The pleasure I get in throwing that bone again and again is like the pleasure God gets from telling the sun to come up and start a new day each day.
I hope I don’t get distracted. I hope I don’t forget what I’m looking for through the darkness. I hope I don’t forget to come back to my master and offer everything I have at his feet. I hope I never forget how proud He is of me, especially when I’m doing what I was created to do, being who I was created to be. I hope I never forget how happy He is with me.