I bought a new puppy recently. I’ve had her now about four months and I’m currently in the process of training and building trust with her. As I’m training her, I’ve recognized a lot about the importance of a dog trusting its owner. I saw in my relationship with the dog, Christs relationship with me. In this post I reflect on how much a dogs life really can instruct us on the importance of building trust with Jesus.
If a dog doesn’t trust you, then it becomes fearful of the owner and just about everyone it encounters (1John:4:18). If you don’t take charge of the dog, the dog will naturally take charge of you. There are exercises that I do, in order to have the dog build trust with me. If I want to be able to clip her nails or take her to the vet, she’s going to need to trust me to do that.
I build this trust with her very slowly at first by laying the foundation using simple obedience exercises. These exercises consist of simple commands like sit, lie down, roll over, or teaching her impulse control by leaving food in front of her and telling her to leave it until I say its ok to eat. After that I touch the dog in sensitive places like her paws, ears and mouth to get a vision of her teeth. Depending upon the age of the puppy, there may be some resistance at first.
The reason for this is because there’s no absolute trust right now. She needs to hand control of her body over to me knowing I’ve no intention to cause harm. For as long as she resists, I can never truly take care of her when she needs to be taken to the vet for healing of an ailment.
The same is said of Jesus and our own relationship with him. We need to hand our entire free will to God, trusting that he has our best intentions at heart. For as long as we resist the gentle touch of God, handing over to him complete control of our souls, can he ever really heal us? A dog that doesn’t trust its owner will often roam around the house and backyard. When it goes on walks with its owner it will take the lead. There is often the illusion of a dog/owner relationship, but there really isn’t any relationship at all.
We can be like this with Jesus. We want to roam around The Lords house, eat of his table (Holy Communion) or even the scraps that fall from the table (his signal graces). But when the time comes for us to give Him complete reign over our sinful selves, there is great resistance on our part. Like the dog, we want to roam around the house, and do as the Master says whenever it pleases us to do so. Is that really a Master/disciple relationship? NO! We may be going to Church everyday and live under the illusion that we have a relationship, when there really isn’t any. Some of us live and die without ever trusting in God.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.Psalm:37:5
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.Hebrews:11:6
Faith is both a belief and trust in God. What separates us from dogs is that we have free will to resist Gods advances and he will respect that. Dogs cannot do this and can be trained to trust in its master, so what does that say about us? That we are in a worse position than dogs? When it comes to building trust with Christ, I believe that to be the case.
Now is the time to ask ourselves the question. . . Are we roaming around Gods house, toying with his Bible and Sacraments, while at the same time refusing to give him complete control over us? I think we all know the honest answer that leads to living a True Life In God is to leap into the arms of God with a simple, naive and childlike trust.