He made us laugh hysterically! His face was pressed up against the window, mouth open wide. His long tongue, reminiscent of a strip of turkey bacon, licked the glass surface with abandon, as if he was relishing his favorite treat. Trails of slobber were left on the windowpane. His eyes never left us. No, this wasn't one of the mischievous neighbor boys, but our big, auburn Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Mighty Joe.
We were sitting at the table, enjoying our dinner, when Joe got our attention with his crazy faces. He just stared and stared as if to say, "I love you guys, and I want to be as close to you as I can get! Oh, and by the way, do you want to come out and play?" Of course we ended up getting up from the table, going out onto the deck, and showering him with the attention he was craving. Did I mention we also gave him some treats? He was just so cute, we couldn't resist.
Although this incident happened a few years ago, I chuckled again this morning just thinking about it. Then it dawned on me: What if I approached my relationship with God the same way? Do I long to be as close to Him as I can get? Do I keep my gaze fastened on Him in eager anticipation? Or do I shift my focus to other things?
God created each one of us with a purpose and a plan. He has marvelously equipped us with different talents and abilities. Psalms 139:14 reminds us that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made (KJV)." Each of us has a decision to make. How will we use the gifts God has given us? Will our goal be self-serving or sacrificial? Do we crave fame and fortune, or are we willing to submit our agenda to the One who gifted us with the ability?
We're all human. None of us will get it right 100% of the time. Yet I am so encouraged by the countless examples of people in the Bible who, in spite of their humanity, were persistent in their pursuit of Christ and persevered in spite of setback. Think about the Apostle Paul. He was a zealous persecutor of Christians before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:4-10). After his conversion, he became equally zealous to promote the gospel of his Lord.
His life was far from easy. He endured extreme hardship including: shipwrecks, beatings, plots to kill him, and imprisonment, to name just a few. Yet under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul penned the following words: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"(Rom. 8:28). What is God's purpose for us? The answer is found in the very next verse: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29; emphasis mine).How can I be conformed to the image of Christ? By staying close to him in prayer and Bible study and by fixing my gaze on Him, "the author and finisher" of my faith (Heb. 12:2).
Here's the icing on the cake! Remember how we couldn't resist giving Joe treats because he made it clear that he loved us and wanted to spend time with us? I'm convinced our Father lavishes heavenly 'treats' on us when we seek Him with all that we're worth. How do I know? Take a look at Psalms 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." We're also told that He is able to do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20).
Take the opportunity to get close to the Savior today. You'll be glad you did!