19aAs the 95-pound ball of energy rushed past me — nearly knocking me over as I let him back in after his morning patrol — I almost forgot there was a time we’d have been joined by a leash for the entirety of this ritual.

Dog people understand; there’s something to be learned in every day we spend with our four-legged friends. In the time he’s been in our family, I’ve learned a lot about life, love and healing from Champ.
The longer I walk this earth, the more aware I’ve become that people give up too soon, too often. We prefer reward without the contest, promotion without effort, and accolades without genuine accomplishment.

Someone gave up too soon on this big bundle of loyalty that shadows me wherever I go in the house. Perhaps they failed to be there when he brought the ball back, or to patiently correct him when he got the sandwich that was sitting pretty much at eye level on the counter.

Or maybe whoever dropped him off as an unmanageable pet had simply lost interest when he sprouted those long legs and began testing them to see how fast he could get from one place to the next. I don’t know.
What I do know is that rescuing Champ from a no-kill shelter is what all three of us needed. We had just lost his predecessor to old age and our son to an act of senseless violence when Champ came into our home to remind me that relationships worth having are worth exponentially more than the effort we apply to growing them. Among other things, this crazy dog has taught me a lot about how God must see us — His unruly-but-worth-the-effort children.

When we applied to adopt him, we were grilled by the shelter staff who implied we might be too old for a dog of Champ’s stature. They suggested he might require too much attention, discipline or strength to make it with us. After the second or third doggy welfare call, I assured them he wasn’t our dog — he was a member of the family.

I believe our relationship with God is a lot like all of this. We come to Him with all our quirks and habits, and He takes us in knowing we have greater potential than we’re given credit for.

As we learn that what He wants to do is love us, and nothing we do can make Him love us less, we begin to calm and grow into the relationship to the point the thing that gives us the most joy and greatest sense of comfort and belonging is to simply sit at God’s feet and adore Him.

God makes Himself known in so many ways. From each breath we breathe to the stunning sunsets that take it away, the wonder of God and His creation should never fail to stun us.
Merry Christmas … hope has come!

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