Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Old Dogs and the Truth About God

There once was an old wise dog named Ralph. He was calm, loving and spent most of his time under the porch of an old house. The people who lived in the old house loved the dog with all their hearts and he responded by loving them back. He walked faithfully by their side and served them with all his heart. He was a great dog who never met a stranger and loved everyone who walked up to the old house.

There was a 6 year old boy, Tyler, who lived in the neighborhood who was bitten by a pit bull when he was 4. Ever since that incident, he became afraid of all dogs, running away crying to his mother to comfort him. When the little boy walked on the sidewalk in front of the house, Ralph would crawl out from under the porch and stand in front of the house. The little boy would run away crying each and every time.

Tyler's sister, Debbie, saw her brother's response to the old dog and hated Ralph. She talked to all the other neighborhood kids about the "vicious dog" that "lived down the street." She warned everyone to stay away and instigated a neighbor to call Animal Control and report the old dog for being a "nuisance to the neighborhood." That false report caused many people to steer clear of Ralph and the old house.

Josh was a 16 year old boy who grew up in the red house four doors down. Josh was mean, acting out on others what had been done to him. Each time Josh walked down the street toward the 7-11 to get cigarettes, he would throw something at Ralph and yell at the old dog. Ralph never barked at him, but would warily watch Josh walk by. Josh had heard the stories that the old dog was vicious and wanted to teach the old dog that he couldn't attack innocent bystanders.

So here you have four different people who have four different views of Ralph. Their views do not change Ralph, Ralph just is who he is. Every person who came into contact with Ralph projected their own love, fears, hatred or anger onto the old dog. Each person's history, personality, motives, and character came out when they came across the old dog.

It is the same way with God. Those who know Him, trust Him. Love Him. They don't have to rely on other's opinions, they have experienced the Lord themselves...His love, His goodness, His affection, His mercy. They walk with Him. They give up control to Him and have the faith that He will be good to them. In suffering, they know He is there suffering along side with them. In hardship, He is their rock. They depend upon his protection and provision and know He will come through.

Those who don't have a relationship with Him must rely on the projections of their own unmet needs, history, personality, motives and character. They have to be told what to think about God by those who think they know. They have to rely on the empirical evidence (or not) of God and trust their fleshly senses to perceive God (or not). But God is God. He is who he is and our perceptions of Him do not change Him...it changes the way we see him. Some focus on the judgement and retribution of God and forget about the grace and love of God. Others see God's love as a license to do whatever they want. Others may use God as the cosmic 911, asking to be saved when they are in trouble. Still others treat God as a concept and rationalize him but never trust in him. Still, others may see the unfairness of life and blame God for their suffering. We may read about the reality of God in Scriptures but ignore Scriptures that describe a part of God we may not like.

So if I don't speak in tongues or experience the gift of prophesy, do I say that part of the Bible is expired? If I want to engage in behavior prohibited by God, do I then morph the scripture to fit my beliefs? Do I explain away or rationalize that which I can not understand? Is that what God wants us to do? Pick and choose? The limitations we place on God DOESN'T LIMIT HIM, it places limits on our faith and how we allow Him to work. He still is who He is. I can either accept that or see God as a "heavenly buffet" where I get to choose what I want?

How do you think you limit God? How have your perceptions of God limit the big picture of who He is?

Father, in the name of Jesus, give us the eyes to see you for who you really are. Make us like little children, so we can believe you and take you at your Word. Bless you for being bigger than we can imagine, greater than we can believe and for Your grace that allows us to grow.


  1. Good post - I like the illustration.

  2. Very good thoughts! I like the challenge to refuse to ignore or change the parts of the Bible I do not understand.

  3. I know Terry. It is awfully difficult to struggle when what we want is security...especially in issues of faith. My hope for myself is that I can be open to the voice of God and obedient to what He wants me to do. Thanks for dropping by.