Buddy and the Birthday Party

On a recent sunny Monday morning, we were walking our two dogs Buddy and Sassy in our neighborhood park. Before we could even tell him, “Bad Dog!”, Buddy gobbled up a piece of cake that been dropped in the grass by a nearby covered pavilion. The cake had probably slid off a plate of either a careless child or distracted guest at a birthday party held in the park the previous day. As we looked at our mischievous canine, we began wondering if there were some lessons God wanted to reveal to us. One lesson is that of lingering effects. Although the gifts had been opened, the party games played, decorations taken down and all attendees had left hours ago, that discarded cake slice was certainly a lingering effect of the celebration from Buddy’s viewpoint. This made us reflect on how we as believers can conduct ourselves with those we encounter throughout the day. Romans 12:11 tells us “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.” When we encounter others in our daily lives, are we conveying our zeal for the Lord and desire to serve Him? This can translate into showing interest in others, taking time to listen, and praying with them as they share their challenges and burdens. Conducting ourselves this way plus sharing such scriptures as 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you” may be great ways to have a lingering effect on someone who is in need of feeling the Lord’s presence and love long after our encounter with them. After watching Buddy devour the cake in two bites, another lesson became apparent. This is the importance of waiting on the Lord for provision. Psalm 34:10 tells us: “The young lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Although that scripture encourages us to look to Him for our needs, many of us can become impatient while waiting for the manifestation of the good things He promises us. We can be tempted to behave like Buddy, scarfing down something that is not good and possibly even dangerous for us. Just like Buddy’s unhealthy choice, pursuing our desires without waiting on the Lord could have unpleasant consequences and/or delay receiving the blessings He desires to give us. Another revelation unfolded as we watched Sassy’s reaction to the cake grabbing scenario. Sassy sniffed Buddy’s mouth and was apparently jealous thinking she missed out on a treat. We began wondering how much time is wasted when we become so focused on what someone else is receiving without stopping to consider if that is something we really want or need. Have we ever been so preoccupied with someone’s new house, new car, promotion at work, or other markers of success that we lose sight of Him and fail to wait to see what He has for us? We are told in Psalm 16:5: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” This verse helps remind us to keep our eyes upon Him for our provision and not compare our situation with those around us. As we continued walking after Buddy’s ‘snack stop’ we noticed he seemed overly friendly to the city worker who is usually there during our daily jaunt through the park. We wondered if Buddy was showing misguided appreciation thinking it was the worker who had left him the treat. Watching this, we begin wondering how often we have done something similar. While it is important to express our gratitude to someone showing us kindness, we also do not want to fail to thank the Lord for orchestrating the entire situation which resulted in blessing us. To help us to more fully show appreciation of our blessings, it can be helpful to remember James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly light, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Finally, who knew that a Monday morning walk in the park and a naughty mutt could produce such rich and wonderful lessons? This experience has helped us recognize He is present throughout each and every day and uses multiple ways to communicate with us. Although we are told in Job 37:5 “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding” sometimes He chooses to speak to us in the routine and the mundane tasks of our daily lives.