My husband and I recently decided to adopt a new member into our family. His name is Joey and he is a 3 month old Labradoodle. He is sweet and fun and loyal, but he is also a puppy! For anyone who has raised a puppy before, you know that it entails A LOT of patience and a lot of work. In order to have a well-behaved dog you have to be willing to put in the time to do some training.
One of the things that Joey likes to do is steal my dirty socks from the hamper. He comes out with them in his mouth like it is the best prize he could ever win. He is so proud and happy about his newly acquired treasure. He never chews them, but just carries them around and hides them in “secret” places, like his bed or behind the living room chair. Whenever we see him with one of these treasures, we patiently smile, take the sock away from him (which he happily gives up) and give him one of his own toys to play with. At first, we thought it was kind of funny and cute that he did this, but then after picking up 10 or more socks a day we realized that this was becoming a habit that we didn’t want him to have.
So we moved our hamper to a higher place so he can no longer reach it. This seemed to solve the problem, until I drop a sock out of the dryer, or leave the laundry basket on the floor for a period of time longer than 5 minutes. He will come prancing out into the living room with his newly found prize! As I took a sock that I had dropped this morning out of his little puppy mouth, told him no, and gave him his own toy to play with, I laughed to myself because I got a picture of God doing the same thing with us.
God has lovingly adopted us into his family as children (1 John 3:1). Through faith in Jesus Christ, anyone who wants to, can become part of God’s family (John 1:12). When we do choose this path we are also asking and allowing God to help us. We might think we know everything, but in reality we are just like little puppies discovering the world for the first time. We have to be taught, just like Joey, that socks are not made for chewing…Ok, ok… you probably already know this, but you get my point! Just like Joey can’t resist the temptation of this smelly sock, there are things in life that are just SO tempting, it is almost irresistible to keep away from them.
Just like we are training Joey out of our love for him, God is trying to teach us and point us in the right direction, out of his love for us. God only wants the best for us. He can see the bigger picture when we cannot and has far more wisdom than our little brains can fathom! I am also not trying to deprive anything from Joey by taking away this sock or teaching him to not run after cars, but I am trying to protect him and teach him how to be a good, loving, respectful dog. God is doing the same with us. “My son, do not forget my instruction, and let your heart guard my commandments, for they will add to you length of days, years of life and peace.” (Proverbs 3:1-2). Who doesn’t want to add to length and peace to their days? I know I sure could use some more peace in my life!
It is the same with parenting, you teach your kids not to play in the road because you don’t want them to get hit by a car, not because you don’t want them to play at all. Many people look at Christianity and think it is “boring” or “they have no fun”, but I don’t see it that way. God is trying to temper the bad influences on our lives because he knows the “thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). He knows there are bad things in this world and he is doing his best to help us steer clear of them.
Maybe it is fun to go out and get drunk with friends, but it might not be so fun, when you get pulled over on your way home and get slapped with a fine and/or an arrest for drunk driving.
Maybe it is fun to sleep around with people, but it might not be so fun when you get an STD or when one day you wake up alone and realize that sex doesn’t equal love.
Maybe it is fun to call people names and gossip about them behind their back, but it might not be so fun when someone is doing the same to you and suddenly you are the center of this week’s cyber attack.
God is looking out for us, just as any loving father wants the best for his children. “For the one who God loves, he reproves, like a father to his cherished son” (Proverbs 3:12). God does not tell us to do or not do things because he wants to make us live boring and mundane lives, but He wants us to use wisdom so that we don’t get ourselves into situations that will get us or others hurt.
God also understands that we are broken and He is patient with us. He knows that we can’t and won’t always get it right. So just like we continue to take the sock away from Joey and say no, God does the same with us. He even tells Moses, “I am the Lord God. I am merciful and very patient with my people. I show great love, and I can be trusted” (Exodus 34:6). He is patient and forgiving when we mess up and make the wrong choices. He lovingly tells us no, and shows us the better choice to make.
So don’t get discouraged if you feel like you are making the wrong choice again and again. I know I do it ALL THE TIME! Be patient with yourself, try again, and know that you are loved!