It seems that we have recently focused on our canine children as illustrations of spiritual lessons for our daily lives. Today is no exception as our MinPin doggie daughters, also known as “the girls”, have once again tried our patience.
We have tried to “train” the girls to stay put in one place while we are eating our meals. The original intent of this routine was to stop them from barking while we are eating, and also to stop them from begging during the meal. It has, for the most part, stopped the barking. But, it has not been as successful with the begging.
Usually their “place” is the living room sofa as we are eating dinner in the dining room, in full site of them. When we have finished our meal, we will say “you’re through” and they are to come bounding up to the table for a good girl treat, thankful to their parents that they are being so wonderfully rewarded. That is what is supposed to happen.
What actually happens is that they go to their “place” right away when we tell them to do so as we are sitting down to the table. Then, when the wait is too long or if the aroma is especially exciting to them (such as the smell of bacon), they hop down and come over to the table where we are sitting. At first, they would just run over and jump up at our side to tell us that they are there. We, then, point to the sofa, say “Uh Uh – No, go back, place” and they run back, jumping up on the sofa and sitting as if they were good girls.
If we are engaged in serious conversation during dinner, they become stealth doggies. They slide off the sofa and sneak through the kitchen so we don’t see them walking around. Then they cut between us to get under the table in the hopes that something will have fallen through a crack. We find out that one or both are under the table when we move our feet and hit something. Then, we again, point to the sofa and say the dreaded words “Uh Uh – No, go back!”.
I suspect that we are not the only ones that have this experience. However, aside from the humorous smiles that their actions might induce, there is a parallel with my own life experiences and obedience, and it is not at all humorous.
As long ago as when the law was given to the Israelites, God said:
“So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD.”
Again, in the wilderness they were told:
“You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”
God is serious about our being obedient to His commandments. In fact, Jesus used obedience to His commandments as the test of our love for Him.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:15, 21
In full recognition of the fact that we could not keep Jesus’ commandments through our own power, Jesus told His disciples that, after His resurrection and ascension into Heaven, the Holy Spirit would be sent to help them do that which He commanded them.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.“
Moreover, the Holy Spirit seals us in Christ. He is the surety, the guarantor of our salvation.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,”
Indeed, one of the Holy Spirit’s assignments with respect to believers is to transform us into the image of our Lord and Savior.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
When God has told me to stay in a difficult situation, I try to jump out of it, a classic definition of disobedience. When I do, it is as if I hear the Holy Spirit saying “Don’t do it. Uh Uh – No!”. Often I obey that voice and repent from my attempted jump of disobedience. But, there are times when I disobey intentionally and then, too, I must repent of my arrogant disobedience and seek forgiveness, asking the Spirit to strengthen me so that I am able to resist temptation.
God has given us His Word and His Spirit who indwells the believer in Jesus Christ. The Spirit transforms us and renews our mind so that, as we are sanctified, we are conformed to the image of Jesus. But that process is not linear.
By that I mean, it is not a smooth road toward transformation. We struggle and fail to obey the directives that are clearly given in Scripture and brought to our attention through the Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord that when we have been disobedient, the Holy Spirit still is within us and He will tenderly guide you back into relationship with Him and with our Lord if you will confess your sin and repent.
Next time you see your canine or Homo sapiens children disobeying your directive, stop and ponder whether there is something in your own life for which you need to confess and repent. Is there some act of disobedience that you need to address? Is the Holy Spirit saying “Uh Uh – No!”?
The Psalmist knew the sweet fellowship with God that confession and repentance provides when he said:
“Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah”
When David sinned, and kept silent, he was tormented day and night because of his guilt. When he turned to God and confessed his sin, he was forgiven and he could say “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity”. Happy is the one who does not stand before God covered in the guilt of his sin.
Praise God that the Spirit says “Uh Uh – No!” preventing us from sinning, but praise God also that when we fail to be obedient, we can be restored to full fellowship with Him through confession and repentance.
Father, I praise You for Your Holy Spirit and for the work that He does in my life as He guides me and leads me in the path that I should take. Thank You too that Your Spirit also stops me from disobeying and, when I do sin, that He leads me back into the fold. I praise Your Holy Name.