By Galen Dalrymple
Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping. When I'm worrying. When I'm in pain. Sometimes lack of sleep, however, is caused by more sinister things. Sometimes I am troubled by something I should not have done, or should have done but did not. Sometimes it is something that seems so simple and innocent, like failing to stay up to work on a Sunday school class, a sermon, or a report for the boss. Other times it's something more complex.
Ramses the Great, the Boxer who stole my heart, slept perfectly well. Nothing seemed to bother him. He was not fearful. He did not carry guilt with him past the veil and into his dreams. Why? Because he was innocent - or as innocent as a young dog could be. He did not spend, and did not need to spend, vast amounts of time day after day worrying about all the bad things he had done and the good things he had left undone.
Neither did he need to worry about where his next meal would come from, or whether he would have a roof over his head next week. He trusted me, simply and completely. He trusted that I would take care of him, regardless of whatever mischief he might have gotten into that day. Every day he awaited me at the door, wagging his entire body in the way that Boxers do (possibly to compensate for their clipped tails), fully expecting that I would be as overjoyed to see him as he was overjoyed to see me. And you know what? He was absolutely right.
We humans, however, have not learned to trust in quite this way. We do not rest in the care of our Master quite as plainly and profoundly as our dogs rest in our care. Yes, sometimes I grew impatient with Ramses the Great for something he had done, but my anger quickly wore away when he looked at me with his huge, pleading brown eyes. It was his way of asking for forgiveness. I think it is every dog's way of asking for forgiveness. And when I reassured him with soothing words or a soft pat on the head, he sensed my love and curled up on my lap (though he was 75 pounds, and the Lord of the Nile, he still thought of himself as a puppy) and - you guessed it - he fell asleep, completely at peace, knowing for certain that he would be loved and cared for when he awoke.
Psalm 4:8 says:
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
We all need to learn to trust our Master more. We should not fall for the lies and discouragement that the world would throw our way, for all the things that make our days troubled and our nights restless. As Jesus explained when he referred to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, God does not want us to worry for the things that we need, but He wants us to trust that He will be faithful to provide.
Sometimes the simple things are the most difficult. God does not want us to worry about whether or not we are loved. He went to extraordinary lengths, all the way to the cross, so that we would know for certain that we are loved and will not be abandoned. If God became flesh and gave His life for us, will He not also take care of the lesser things we need? And if God went so far to forgive us while we were yet sinners, can we not trust that we have been forgiven once and for all?
Let us put aside our worries and confess our wrongs, seeking simple trust and forgiveness - and then let us crawl up into the lap of God and rest in peace.
Further installments in the "Lessons My Dog Taught Me" series will appear each Monday at the Evangelical Portal.
Galen Dalrymple pastors Vineyard Hills Christian Church, a non-denominational Evangelical church in the wine country of California. His daily meditations, Daybreaks, are received by readers all over the country.
10/26/2009 4:00:00 AM