By Galen Dalrymple
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)
I had heart surgery in 2002, and after the surgery I had eight weeks to recuperate before I was summoned back to work. This gave me a great opportunity to get re-acquainted with my wife, our daughter, and our dogs. In all those things, I considered myself to be fortunate and blessed. While time with my wife and daughter cannot be compared to time with my dogs, I enjoyed watching how the dogs spent their time.
Ramses the Great, Lord of the Nile, was a short-haired dog. While some Boxers live in snowy parts of the country and fare well enough, Ramses' blood had thinned from living all his life in California. One of his greatest joys seemed to be getting up in the morning -- whenever he felt like getting up -- and then searching the house for a puddle of sunshine.
Now, a sunshine puddle is nothing more than sunshine streaming through a window or patio door and forming a glowing amber "pool" upon the ground. Sunshine puddles are neither rare nor precious. They don't cost a thing, and they appear just about every day -- especially in California. Yet when Ramses the Great discovered a sunshine puddle, you would think he had won the lottery! He made a beeline for the spot and promptly plopped his belly down on the warm tile or carpet. He savored the warmth and took great delight in falling asleep (even though he had just gotten out of bed) in the sunshine.
I actually helped him ‘find' sunshine puddles by raising the blinds or drawing back the curtains. And as I watched him during those days after my heart surgery, I couldn't help but think how I should be more diligent in finding the places in my life where God has shined His light. The Psalmist long ago wrote that his soul "pants" for God as the deer pants for the water. I need to have the same thirst for the presence of God in my life that Ramses had for the sunshine puddles. And when I am in the company of my Savior, I need to take more delight in Him, enjoying the warmth of His love.
I tend to be a pessimist. I am not always able to relax and enjoy the peace that God intends for me. Ramses the Great did not question whether or not he deserved the sunshine puddles he found -- he simply accepted them and enjoyed them with all his heart! Yet as a human, sometimes I beat myself up so badly because of my failings that I can't enjoy the blessings that God has shed upon us. And even when I do enjoy them, I sometimes complicate the simply joy of gratitude by worrying about whether it will all be taken away.
Ramses the Great, even though he had many responsibilities as the ruler of Egypt, never did that. He just laid himself down with a contented sigh, set his handsome mug upon his paws, enjoyed the sunshine puddle, and trusted there would be another one soon enough.
It is clear that Jesus wants to give us rest: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Every day there are blessings to be enjoyed and received with grateful hearts. Like the divine mercies, they are new every morning (Lam. 3:23). I hope and pray that today and every day hereafter you will be on the lookout for the places God has illuminated, the places he has set aside for you to be warmed and nurtured, and I pray that you will enjoy them to the full.
Further installments in the "Lessons My Dog Taught Me" series 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.