Monday, September 12, 2016

A Spiritual Lesson from Jake

Last weekend we had to put our sweet ten-year-old Labrador Retriever, Jake, to sleep. He was pretty sick and although it was the right thing to do, it was super hard. In July of 2015 we found out that he had numerous tumors in his abdomen. The veterinarian said he only had about a month left to live. We are so grateful that we had an extra year with him since then, but I miss him terribly.

He truly was the sweetest dog and was my constant companion. He was so gentle and loving with my kids. It’s so strange without him in the house now. I keep thinking I hear him or expect to see him when I walk around the corner. L

My daughter has asked why dogs don’t live as long as people. I think it’s because this way, we’re able to love more than one dog in our lifetime.

Jake has been on my mind so much this week and I remembered that a few years ago I wrote a devotional about a spiritual lesson he taught me:

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
– Ephesians 1:7

It’s so amazing to me how much I have learned about God from my Labrador Retriever, Jake. He has opened my eyes to so many different aspects of God’s love and His ways.

Two years ago I was feeling particularly down and disheartened about a particular sin I’d struggled with in my past. While I had repented and asked God’s forgiveness, I still didn’t feel forgiven. How could God forgive me for that when I had so blatantly disobeyed Him?

A few months later my husband and I took Jake to obedience school. One of the things we learned in class was to release the dog from a particular command, such as sit or stay. The dog is not allowed to move until you say “Okay.”

We practiced this behavior when we let Jake in and out of the back door. To let him go out, we’d say, “Okay,” after he sat calmly. The same rules applied to when he was outside and wanted to come in. If he tried bolting in or out before he was released, we corrected him and he had to do it all over again.

One particular afternoon we had let Jake outside for a while. I went to the backdoor to let him in. He waited patiently in proper form. I slid the glass door all the way open so as to tempt him to come in, but he didn’t even flinch. “Good boy!” I thought.

I released him by saying, “Okay,” but he just sat there.

Wondering if he had heard me, I said it again, “Okay!”

Again he didn’t move. “Jake, it’s okay, come in!” I said louder.

But he just sat there, looking up at me with his big loving eyes. Finally, I took him by the collar and gently led him inside.

Shortly after that episode, I learned how to deal with the sin for which I hadn’t felt forgiven about. God showed me, through Jake, how I looked sitting at the door of His forgiveness. God saw me sitting in the right form, with a repentant heart. I was really sorry for what I had done.

He then said, “Okay, you can come in,” but I didn’t move. He said, “Okay, Andrea, you are forgiven,” over and over, but I just sat there.

So He gently took me by the hand and led me into the house of His forgiveness. He reminded me that He only has to say it once and it’s done.

He doesn’t want us to sit outside, still waiting to be forgiven when we already have been. We have to believe Him when He says our sins are forgiven, and then follow Him and live in His redemption.

Is there a past sin you’ve repented for, yet still struggled with feeling forgiven about? Talk to God and walk confidently into the forgiveness He offers you!

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