Sunday, March 23, 2014

Oh, Riley!

 Our dog is an Australian Shepherd named Riley.  Aussies are known for their intelligence and herding abilities. Riley has longish hair and a short stubby tail.  She is smart and funny. Riley loves to run in circles rather like a furry boom-a-rang.
     Riley is a good dog.  She barks only when someone is in our driveway or at the door.  She knows how to find her way home.  She loves to be pet and listens with her ears perked up when we talk to her, as if she understands every word.  It doesn’t matter if we have been gone for ten days or ten minutes, Riley wags that stubby little tail in delight as soon as she sees us. 

   Riley is even pretty good with our cat, Luna.  Together, they have devised an ingenious door opening system.  When they want to enter a closed room, Riley pushes the door with her head until it swings open.  If they want to exit, Luna pulls the bottom of the door toward her.  Riley then nudges it the remainder of the way open.  Luna and Riley are great friends, as long as it isn’t meal time.  When we eat dinner, Riley assumes her spot under her master’s table and chases the cat from the room until scraps have been served.

     Riley loves our children, but her absolute favorite person is my husband.  Who can blame her?  Riley follows Pat around the house and can usually be found sleeping near or on his feet.
     Pat and Riley have been having a bit of a disagreement lately.  Pat has a grey bean bag thing that he rests his wrist on when he works at the computer.  It’s supposed to prevent carpal tunnel.  Riley insists on stealing the bean bag from his desk.  This happens every time Pat leaves the bean bag unattended. Pat tries to remember to pull the door firmly shut each time he leaves the office, but if it doesn’t quite catch, Riley uses her Houdini-like skills, opens the door, and snatches the bean bag.  She then leaves it on the floor in a fairly obvious place.     We know immediately that Riley has stolen the bean bag as soon as we see her, because she slinks over to Pat wagging her stubby tail and looking very guilty.  Clearly, she knows that she is not supposed to take the bean bag.  It doesn’t matter if she has taken the bean bag moments ago - like if Pat left the room to make tea, or hours before, like if we just came back from church.  Riley looks guilty and we know that she has stolen the bean bag.  Her apology would be more believable if she would leave the bean bag alone, but the next time it is left unguarded, Riley strikes again.  To her credit, she has not ripped the bean bag open.  She just takes it and leaves it someplace, undamaged, but slightly soggy.  This has been going on for a l-o-n-g time.  

     Pat decided that our dog was not going to continue to outsmart him.  So the other day, Pat changed the hinges on the office door so that the door swings shut automatically.  The hinges are just tight enough that the cat can’t help her, even if they should be in the room together.  Now when Riley goes in to the office to steal the bean bag, she cannot get back out again. To Pat’s great excitement, the trap has been sprung three times so far.
     Pat and I knew that this bit of silliness had to be shared with you, but as I kept asking him, what is the point?  What great scriptural premise can be learned from this story?  We talked about how we keep returning to some sins even when we know that they are wrong.  Like in Proverbs 26:11  “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”  But who wants to hear that on a Sunday morning?  
     Then Pat suggested that guilt can eat a person up and make it difficult for them to approach a loving God.  He taking the role of God here to our dog.  Possibly.  But then I noted that it isn’t likely that God would have changed the hinges on the door to trap us.
     So there really isn’t much of a message here, except that God loves us and when needed, gently rebukes us.  He sets the lonely in families.  He gives us laughter and joy, and even victory.  
     There really is a scripture for every occasion.  This one seems to very loosely fit.

      Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
      To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, ...   ~Revelations 3:19-22
     Have you ever had to pit your strength of will and intelligence against a pet?

PS:  Thank you to Create With Joy who featured this post!
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