What My Dog is Teaching Me About Patience this Advent

by | Dec 5, 2017 | Faith

I’ve always disliked it when preachers use illustrations about their dog to teach a lesson about us and our relationship with God. First, I find it a little insulting to be compared to a dog. Now, I love dogs. But I don’t necessarily want to be likened to one. Second, I find it more than just a little pretentious to have the pastor/dog-owner put themselves in the place of God.

Yet here I am, over three years into dog ownership, and Oscar is teaching me a lesson about my relationship with God.

Oscar and I have this little dance every evening. He gets his dinner at 5:00 PM sharp every day. But beginning around 4:30 PM he starts what I call “The Dinner Dance.” First, he begins by simply staring at me, slowly licking his chops. After a couple of minutes of me ignoring him, he then initiates a low moan or whine that erupts from his small body every 10 seconds or so. After the moaning song of the hungry puppy goes on for another few minutes, he takes his begging up another level. He’ll move a little closer to me. Then, he’ll jump up on the couch next to me and start pawing me on the leg or thigh. If I continue to ignore him, he will erupt in full-on clamoring and growling and snapping.

Every night. The same routine.

Needless to say, Oscar is an impatient waiter.

Usually, I get him to calm down by firmly commanding him, “Lay down Oscar.” I set him on the couch next to me, pull his favorite blanket over his body, and gently scratch his ears until he has found a place of tensed peace.

And then, at 5:00 PM sharp, together we get up off of the couch and I prepare his dinner for him. After dinner, he returns to the calm and peaceful pup he usually is.

Here’s where the lesson comes in: Last night, I found myself mentally telling Oscar the same things God has been telling me this Advent season:

Just be still and wait. Good things are coming for you. I have not forgotten you. I have never let you down before, I will not let you down this time. Calm down. Settle your soul. Lie down and relax in my presence. Why are you so restless and anxious? I am right here with you. I will not leave you. Rest, find your peace in me.

Be still and wait.

All too often I am that anxious puppy, nervously begging and impatiently waiting, forgetting all of the times God has provided for me in the past. Yet all God wants from me is to lie down, to rest, to relax, and to contentedly wait in God’s presence.

“The day will come,” says the Lord, “when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.” (Jeremiah 33:14, NLT)

 

Bonus video of Oscar performing “The Dinner Dance”:

 

Shannon E. Greene

I have a heart for teens and young adults, a hope to renew the Church as the Bride of Christ, and a longing to see God's Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I write about youth ministry, Wesleyan theology, women in ministry, and the intersection of life and faith.

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