I’m a dog lover. Growing up, my house almost always had a dog in it. When I was ten, my grandfather gave me one of my own: a two-year-old blonde cocker spaniel whom I promptly re-named, Lacey.
I moved out of my mom’s house the year I turned 18 and haven’t kept a dog since I left. So about a year and a half ago, I made up my mind and adopted Sawyer, a beautiful, 9-month-old mutt, the answer to all my doggie daydreams. He was all I’d ever wanted in a dog: 65 lbs, good-lookin’, obedient, loyal, playful, mellow and completely in love with me. Adopting a dog from a humane society is always risky, but with Sawyer I had struck gold.
Fast forward to last month. I’m sitting in a 12-hour Bible study intensive on “The Fear of the Lord” and soaking in God’s word like a sponge. About mid-way through the day, in my heart of hearts, I heard God speak to me. Now, in many ways, I’m just now learning how to be attentive to God’s voice and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. It’s not every day I hear from him, not necessarily because he’s not speaking, but more because I tend to live my life like a bull in a china shop or a runaway train at lightspeed. But even for me, there was no mistaking it; God was speaking to me and what he said cut me to the heart: “I want you to find another home for Sawyer. It’s time to let go.”
Sooo… what do you do with that? I don’t know. I immediately held those words at arm’s length, testing them against what I know of Scripture, of God’s character, of my relationship with him, of my present circumstances, and on and on. The more I tested them, the more true and trustworthy they seemed. Finally, I pleaded God not to ask me to let him go, reasoning that my somewhat nomadic lifestyle leaves me clinging to what’s constant in my life; in a lot of ways, Sawyer had become my “home”. Clear as day, I felt the Spirit move in my heart again: “No. I am your home.”
Fast forward to this week. I played at a women’s retreat in Breckenridge over the weekend and had to find a dog sitter. I dropped Sawyer off with a family on Thursday evening. They told me on Sunday that they’d fallen in love with him. I told them they could keep him.
My heart is broken. I thought obedience would feel better, but it doesn’t. I still have to mourn the loss. I still miss him like crazy. I still don’t understand.
But even in this, God is answering my prayers. I’ve asked him to make me more like Jesus. I know seeing my heart look more and more like his absolutely thrills him. It thrills me, too. I’ve also asked him to help me understand what it really means to worship him. This week, I understand a little more what 1 Samuel 15:22 means: “To obey is better than sacrifice”. I would rather have given up lots of other things and called it “sacrifice”. But compared to doing what he says, a sacrifice like that means nothing. He wants my heart. This time, my worship really is a “gifted response”, like Matt Redman says – it’s only with his strength and his grace that I am able to pry my fingers off something so precious and offer it back to him. I’m smiling as I remember again: it belongs to him already, anyway.
May we, as his people, live our lives in such a way that we declare him to be of greatest value, our only true Treasure. Blessed be his name.