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Lessons from a Labrador

by Francie Snell  
6/22/2015 / Devotionals

The one thing I can say for sure about Jack is he loves to eat. He's like an eating machine with a ravenous appetite. He'll take on just about anything he can get his teeth around. That includes shoes, glass, paper, or anything growing on a stem and, of course, his beloved dog food. Jack was a rambunctious, seven-month-old, yellow Labrador when God used him as a surprising example I will never forget.

My sister Joan often boasted about her dog and his intelligence. She always kept me apprised of the most recent trick Jack had mastered. Along with following the commands to sit, stay, lie down, go get your leash, Jack was eager to please and do just about anything he was told...if he knew how.

During my visit to Joan's house one day, it became feeding time for her two dogs. As she started across the living room with Jack at her heels, she called to me.

"You want to see what Jack can do now? C'mon."

I followed them out into the garage and onto the cool cement floor. Joan stopped and looked down at the anxious dog standing at her side.

"Hey Jack," she said, with excitement, "You want some food?"

In an explosion of energy, Jack began bucking and rearing like a wild horse. Joan grabbed a metal bowl off the floor, dipped it in a bag, and scooped out about a cup's worth of dry dog food. Encouraged by that, Jack took to flight, springing straight up and then spinning around in mid-air. As Joan calmly leaned over to place the bowl on the floor, he suddenly stopped. When the bowl touched the cement, so did Jack's rump.

He sat intently staring at the bowl, and then looked at Joan, then longingly back at the bowl, then again at Joan, like a spectator at a tennis match. Quivering at first, he soon became still as he fixed his focus solely on Joan. He watched her closely, waiting for her command. Without a single glance at the food, he waited and waited, without a twitch.

His concentration was steady and unwavering while I was getting antsy and impatient. Sensing his agony, I wanted to blurt out, "Okay, enough already. Let the poor dog EAT."

But this was what Joan was waiting for his undivided attention. Finally, the moment Jack and I were longing for had arrived. Breaking the tense silence, Joan announced her consent.


In one fell swoop, Jack plunged onto the food bowl like a starving maniac and consumed the hard brown nuggets like a vacuum cleaner. They seemed to shoot down his throat, but without his teeth being involved in the process. There was no visible chewing motion; just one gulp and the bowl was clean.

I was amazed by the self-control this dog displayed. Even in his impetuous puppyhood, he managed to restrain himself as he waited for his master's signal. I could understand why Joan wanted me to see that demonstration. It was truly impressive.

Then something occurred to me: Could this be the same kind of obedience the Lord desires from me?

The question caused me to reflect on past opportunities I had perceived at the time were provided to me by God. The right direction and choices in these matters would seem so clear. Impulsively, I'd set out to partake in what I thought was a Godly appointment, assuming He was in agreement.

It wouldn't come to me until later that I had sorely missed something. Perhaps it was that still small voice of God's spirit, or the peaceful feeling which usually affirmed how my thinking and actions were in accord with His will. I never was good at waiting, so let's just say some things didn't pan out the way I had hoped. So often, I ran ahead of Him in my own energy and understanding, only to fall on my face in a muddy puddle of good intentions.

These days, I'm finally starting to appreciate the sheer luxury of not having to figure things out on my own. I can rest in the fact that God will show me His will and in His time when I search through His love letter...the Bible.

It might take a while. I might have to wait, and it might not be the answer I want. Even so, like my sister's dear furry friend whose whole focus was doing her will, I'll strive to keep my focus on the Master.

Psalm 123:2 "As the eyes of the slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us His mercy." NIV

Francie lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California with her husband and best friend. She loves the gift of life the Lord has given her and has a passion to write about it... for His glory.

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