Our New Home!

Our New Home!
The sun sets on our first full week in Oklahoma!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks... can you?

When I first set my attention to adopting another dog following the sudden loss of our special Aussie companion of 13 years, I thought that it would be best to get an adult dog, around five years of age as the best fit for our situation.  I was pretty certain that we wanted another Aussie mix as we really enjoyed Mandie’s disposition, size and attentiveness.  The only down side was the extra energy she exhibited, especially through her first first five years.

So with that in mind I began the process of filling out the adoption papers, being vetted (per say… like the current search for Vice President candidates…) and having our home and property inspected.  When it came time to pick a pooch… it seemed like everyone had the same idea as me!  The first dog we liked was adopted before we even finished the initial processes, and the second was snatched up right when we were open to choose.  You think maybe that someone was trying to tell me something?

Then after a series of emails back and forth to the adoption group, I found Fiver!  Everything on his information sheet met our desires except for his being around 8 months old!  But after various conversations with his foster parent, I was convinced that he had a not-too-energetic and mellow disposition and was the right one for us!  We’ve since come to realize that once he got home with us and realized that he was no longer in the shadow of a couple of other family dogs and a three year old human running around the house and was now the center of our attention… that he was free to show off his active side… and we love it!  (He’s lying right here at my feet, so I have to be careful about what I say!!!)

One thing about him that was pretty evident was that he was, as you might call it, a clean slate.  He seemed to have zero understanding of any command that I would issue to him.  But you know… I realized early on that this was a good thing for us as we (read that “I”) could train him up without having to “un-train” any bad habits or baggage that he brought along with him as our previous dog had displayed in her early years.  I’ve actually been excited about it as the Lord showed me that it was important to have some “new, young life” in our home!

So my plan has been to let him get acquainted and comfortable with us and our home and then dive into the training.  He’s pretty smart and seems to pick up things very quickly.  Between my youngest daughter, who worked a bit with him during their recent visit, and me, he has already learned to “Sit” and is beginning to get the idea of “Stay” and “Come” under his belt!  He is also learning to bring the ball back to me after he flies across the yard to get it!

I thought of all this when I was studying from the beginning of Ephesians two over the last couple of days.  The God’s Word © translations states that “God has made us what we are.  He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)  My immediate leading after my initial meditation on this verse was that Papa God has made each of us unique, each with a special set of gifts and talents and personality traits.  

It is like I have often wondered why both my wife and I are so different, in many respects, from the rest of our family’s.  But then I also realized that while we may come from the same stock, all of us are exposed to varying sets of outside stimuli as we are growing up.  I can look back at some of my wife’s close adult friends in her church during her childhood and  teens and understand where some of her outstanding Godly and spiritual sensitivities to the needs of others were fined turned.

Then, in the middle of all these thoughts on the special-ness that God has inserted into each of us, I began to think about shoes… go figure!  I was reminded that while it may be human nature, we Christians should refrain from criticizing or judging others for the way they do things just because it is different from the way we might do them… or think that we can easily fit into their shoes and do a better job.

Have you ever tried to physically wear someone else’s shoes?  It is not real comfortable!  Many years ago a friend gave me a great looking pair of his cowboy boots.  Let me tell you… they were sharp and I enjoyed how they looked on me.  I had those boots for many years and wore them a lot.  

The only problem was that they ALWAYS hurt my feet!  I can remember coming home after many special church events with my feet aching and greatly desiring to get those (great looking) boots off!  Even though I wanted to wear and enjoy them, they had already been worn and shaped to fit my friend’s feet, weight distribution and gait!  After all the years I had them, I was never able to reshape the original wear of those shoes!  My wife had a similar experience with a pair of sneakers that her Mom had given her.

The example of those boots made it clear to me as to Papa God’s intentions with His mercy and grace when it comes to loving others.  I read where God in His MERCY does not give us what we really deserve, and in His GRACE gives us what we do not deserve (ie; forgiveness and unlimited love!).*

I also began to understand that in His mercy and grace, Papa God never gives up on us and never stops working to grow us into the man or women of God that He is specifically designing us to become.  I have especially learned this through the adventure of faith that Piper and I have been on over the last few years.  Even at 63 years of age, I still have a lot to learn!  Who says that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

The hard part is that the older one gets the more stubborn they seem to become and with it a lack of desire to learn new things and let go of the old tried (although not always good or successful) and true ways of doing things!  It is very similar to trying to teach our former 13 year old Aussie something new compared to Fiver at 9 months old!  But then again… the Bible does talk about our youth being renewed like the eagles… (See: Psalm 103:5)

Throughout this journey that Piper and I are on, I have seen and personally experienced the response of those who have changed or adjusted with the new set of circumstances that we are in the midst of and those who have not.  And I must admit that those who have changed are much more enjoyable to be around!  They also seem to be happier with their lives and more in tune to the leadings of the Lord.  I have always enjoyed the sense of EXPECTANCY that flows with the changes that Papa God requests of us… don’t you?  

Have a great day!  Keep open to and aware of how He is leading you into change and let the expectancy of His mercy and grace be your guides… and as you do… keep asking yourself… “What New Tricks am I expecting to learn today?”

*”Be Rich” A Commentary on the book of Ephesians by Warren W. Wiersbe, chapter 4

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