A while back I told some Christian publishing and writing muck-a-mucks with whom I was having lunch that Crosswalk.com had engaged me to write a blog for them (everything I post here on “Suddenly Christian” also runs on Crosswalk and Christianity.com).
“Oh, no,” said one of my lunch-mates, an author of “Christian Living”-type books. “I’ve done work like that before. It drives you crazy. You have to turn everything that happens to you into a little story lesson about God.”
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I pretty much never do that. But that guy’s statement created in my head a kind of ongoing comedy routine, where I always imagine having to turn something I’m seeing or experiencing into one of those little pat Christian Life Lessons About God that pastors and Christian authors are always boring you to death with. Like, if I’m waiting in line at a Starbucks for a cup of coffee, I’ll think … “Waiting for God is just like waiting for a cup of coffee. You want that rich, full, warm, galvanizing experience—but you don’t quite have it yet. To get it you have to wait until the time is right—and only God knows when that is. Like Matthew said before he quit his day job as a tax collector and started following Jesus, “C’mon already! Fork it over!” Poor Matthew. He clearly drank too much coffee. But like that oft-chagrined disciple, we, too, must wait around in a cramped little space with people who have morning breath that could knock out a Rottweiler. For God is the sweet mint that so many of us fail to ingest before we venture outside …” and so on, until my coffee’s ready, or the light’s changed, or the debris from the accident’s been cleared away, or whatever.
It’s stupid, but … whaddaya gonna do?
Anyway, two days ago a woman who works with my wife Cat dropped off her dog for us to take care of for ten days while she goes to visit her family of, apparently, dog haters. (Kidding! I have no idea why she didn’t take her dog with her. I know she’s flying some place far away. Where, apparently, there’s no oxygen. Kidding! But, seriously: God is like travel plans you don’t really understand. You know that after a long journey you’ll end up somewhere, and chances are that place will be delightful. But you’re not sure how to pack for the trip, are you? Does God give provide dental floss? Should you bring your favorite bulky slippers, or pack the little flat ones your niece basically stole from the hospital where she works? For it is not just our souls that we care about, but, let’s face it, our soles.)
Dogs. Dogs are huge in publishing right now. People love stories about dogs. I think it’s because dogs are irresistibly cute, emotionally needy, and very easy to please. That is one catnip of a combo. But what do I know about dogs? I’ve always had cats. I’ve had more cats than Old Yeller had fleas. I love dogs—but we’ve never had one, because we’ve always lived in apartments. For some unfathomable reason, apartment owners seem to think cats are less damaging to their surroundings than dogs are. And that’s true—as long as you don’t count the air in it as part of a place’s surroundings.
Anyway, since I’ve been walking, playing, and napping with this dog we’re watching, my brain’s been veritably bombarded with poignant, heartfelt, “What My Dog Taught Me About God” type stuff. Some of which I was going to share with you here. Except now this post is way too long for that. So next time.