Having my own dog has been quite a sanctifying experience. Cali loves to chew, as do most lab pups. I keep hoping she will grow out of it, and yet she likes to keep me guessing about the integrity of my house when I return home. Some days, she is a little angel, and then there are the other days.
I have come home to many surprises. Remnants of sponges, tomatoes, sunglasses, pens, books, x-rays, cedar chips and “snow” from dog pillows have all been common findings strewn about the living room. Most recently, I found bamboo placemat shards all over the living room. Fantastic.
Oh, Yes She Did
As soon as I walk in the door, I can tell when something is amiss. Cali will greet me, but if she has been bad, her ears go back, she slinks away and cowers while I examine the fruit of her labor.
The first time the placemats were chewed up, I was furious. Not only was something of mine destroyed, but now I had to clean up the mess. I tried to pick up the big pieces first, but the bamboo splinters poked me as I collected them, causing some serious pain. I put on a pair of gloves and tried again. Still, I was missing so many pieces that I decided to get my rake, then a broom, then the vacuum cleaner. As I was going through this ordeal, seething to myself about my dog’s disobedient behavior, I felt unexpectedly humbled.
I was livid with Cali for doing something that we both know is wrong. I have told her “no” on numerous occasions, and she even seems to acknowledge her mistakes. Yet, she continues to get into mischief. Why does she do something she knows is wrong when she also knows there will be consequences? Why is it so enticing? I picture Cali staring at something and thinking, I really shouldn’t, and yet she snatches it anyway and begins to chew. She thinks, I’m going to get into trouble for this, and yet she continues to munch away. The temptation is too irresistible.
Oops, I Did it Again
Suddenly it hit me: I am like this in my relationship with God all of the time. He constantly tells me to avoid certain sin, such as gossip, and yet I remain enticed by some juicy news. I can be in the middle of a conversation and think, Don’t do it. This is gossip, but I don’t stop.
I am aware of God’s commands and the repercussions for my actions. I even know Bible verses, warning about the power of the tongue. James 3:8-10 (ESV) says, “[B]ut no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” Regrettably, sometimes I still surrender to temptation.
In the end, God is left picking up the broken shards of other people’s lives and occasionally my own, undoubtedly wondering, Why can’t she just leave it alone when I have told her so many times that this is wrong, and she knows there will be consequences? Still, God continues to love me and forgive me for my willful disobedience. As He promises in His Word, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV).
This realization certainly put things in perspective for me, and I continued cleaning the bamboo shards in silence, having a little more humility and having learned a lot about God’s grace.
Stephanie Tonn is a 32-year old Physician Assistant who lives in Reno, Nevada. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, kayaking and skiing at Lake Tahoe, hanging out with her mischievous dogs, traveling, volunteering at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care and spoiling her nephew. Connect with Stephanie on Instagram.