My good friend, Hank Huff, has trained and utilized dogs for years to help teach biblical principles to scores of people. It is absolutely fascinating to watch him work his dogs. Hank is a master dog trainer and his dogs really listen to him.
As most of my readers know, Louise and I are dog-lovers. During our 53 years together, we had fifteen Labrador retrievers who have produced seven litters of pups that have gone all over the world, including one that served in Viet Nam. They have helped with our Special Kids Day Programs for the disabled and have played a role in some of my counseling.
Sadie is our current Labrador. As her trainer told us, “She is very self-assured and independent.” Basically, Sadie was bred to be a very highly-skilled, pheasant-hunting dog who points first before she flushes a bird. While being a good dog for hunting she thinks she should rule the house. She listens when she wants to listen.
As an elementary school teacher would say to her class, “Please sit, look at me, and pay attention.” And anyone wishing to properly train their dog must speak in the same way. We need to capture their attention, help them focus on the message being spoken, and then reward them for their obedience.
While I love to have lively discussions about deep theological arguments, isn’t God’s Word really as simple as, “Be still and know that I am God,” and, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God”? In this complex, fast-paced world it is sometimes difficult for us to just sit and wait upon God. When it comes down to it, most of us are just like an eager puppy that looks for the reward or task before we have really listened to the commands from our Lord.
For a dog, the listening position is “sitting and being still.” Everything depends on the dog’s ability to sit and focus on his master. “Sit” should mean to a puppy more than just “don’t move.” It should mean “freeze- now, look at me- then wait, and wait, and wait” until he is told to move.
To believers, listening to God should mean be still; in your heart, in your pride, in your wants, in your greed, and unconditionally – stop. Deny yourself, and listen to the Master’s voice, for He has not come here to condemn you, but to give you a more abundant life. The Lord says, “I have great plans for you, plans that are far beyond your ability to understand for now, just be still and trust Me.”
Sound familiar? The Master Trainer, God has His perfect plan for our lives if we would just stop, listen, and obey.
What are the consequences of disobedience?
“…who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,” 1 Peter 3:20 (NIV)
“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Romans 2:8 (NIV)
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” John 3:36 (NIV)
“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” Acts 5:29 (NIV)
What are the rewards when we obey?
“We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:32 (NIV)
“And, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” Hebrews 5:9 (NIV)