Yesterday I posted a rather fanciful look at how “man’s best friend” could teach Christians a lot about evangelism. I was heartened and bit surprised at the level of response to that article (Canine School of Evangelism). Apparently there are a lot of dog lovers embedded into the Evangelical community and that gives me hope for the church!
The star of the most recent post featured our rescued lab/mix Hannah.
This is not a posed photo. At any given time Hannah will come waltzing up with the three tennis balls in her big mouth and download them one by one onto your lap to play catch.
But the star canine of my two books was the late, great Charlie. Our beloved Golden Retriever died a couple of years ago at the ripe old canine age of 14.
This excerpt from "Bring'em Back Alive" documents an experience I had with our senior dog citizen Charlie. It was one more example of the spiritual lessons we can learn from our faithful canine friends and it gave me a little hint of how our relationship with Jesus should work.
The spiritual epiphany from my Golden Retriever came when Charlie suffered a health crisis. He developed a large tumor under his front leg that made walking difficult. We took him in for what would be a rather serious surgery at his ripe old canine age of twelve. The vet did a masterful job in removing the growth and taking care of Charlie. We were called to the animal hospital to pick him up. We waited as they brought Charlie out. He shuffled slowly out and I was taken aback by his appearance. Charlie was trembling, frightened and appeared to be in some pain. His head was down and his perpetual motion tail was strangely still. He seemed confused and disoriented. Then I walked over to Charlie and simply touched him. Almost immediately he quit trembling and he made a valiant attempt to wag his tail. We carefully got him into the car and took Charlie home to heal.
As I reflected on that scene it struck me that Charlie's reaction to my touch and mere presence was a wonderful illustration of how Jesus comforts (or desires to comfort) me. When I (his master) touched Charlie he was comforted. His pain was not gone. He was still frightened. He was still a bit disoriented and unsure. Charlie's circumstances hadn't really changed at all. But he knew that his master was there and that made it better. What a picture that is of how the touch of Jesus enables us to respond when we are frightened, in pain, disoriented and confused. We need to remind ourselves that Jesus never promised that all trouble would vanish when we believe in Him. Jesus did promise that He would be there and that would be enough. But the tough question arises…do we truly believe that? Joni and I have had to make a choice about whether we believed that or not in the past year as we embarked on her cancer journey.
Recently we were discussing the anniversary of a very challenging year. We had been thinking the same thing that day. How did we get through this year? I have had numerous people say to me that they could not have handled the cancer as well as Joni and I have dealt with it. My answer is simple. Yes you could. We would have said the same thing before her diagnosis. But the strength is there to get through the trial. You have to access Jesus everyday. Joni did that faithfully. No matter what her circumstance she knew the Master was with her. She expected His touch and she endured her circumstances.
My prayer for myself and for you today is that we will seek, realize, and be comforted by the touch of the Master in times of difficulty. Paul realized that contentment is not found in good circumstances. He wrote these words from prison while chained to a Roman soldier.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I am so grateful that Paul did not write I “am” content and I “know” the secret even though those words would have been true. He was divinely inspired to honestly write that he had “learned” to be content and he had “learned” the secret of being content. It did come naturally or easily to Paul either. Don’t be discouraged. If you are following Jesus and seeking the touch of the Master then you are learning as well. Contentment is learning how to be present in the present with Jesus. Our nature is to not enjoy the moment at hand and the blessings that usually surround us. Satan would have us living in regret of the past and fear of the future. Jesus said to follow Him. He told us our past is forgiven and our future is in His Hands. Enjoy the moment. Seek the touch of the Master. And continue “learning” to be content. It will change your life.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com