Faith

What comes natural

Such a proud puppy

My dogs caught a squirrel.

They chased it down in the yard and caught it.

About a week ago, we set up some garden mesh fencing to block the dogs from playing in the poison oak growing in the back of the yard. After two weeks of having an unexplained allergic reaction to something, we figured out that poison oak was growing in the back yard. While I hadn’t been back there, the dogs like to play in that section of the yard. It is full of sticks for Poe and small animals for Daisy to chase. We are trying to kill the poison oak, but until it is all gone, we had to block the dogs from that area.

That brings me to today: I look out the window to check on the dogs. (My smarty-pants Daisy keeps trying to find ways to play in Poison Oak Land). And I see them hot on the tail of a squirrel. A squirrel running straight for a tree behind the mesh fencing. That second delay of hitting the fence was all my dogs needed to catch the squirrel.

I had an odd mixture of feelings. I was mortified at my dogs playing with (and killing) this poor squirrel. The sounds that the squirrel made didn’t help the situation. Once Poe got a good hold on the squirrel, he ran proudly around the yard with his prize, determined not to let it get away. Nothing I did would coerce him to drop the thing, because he was watching Daisy waiting for him to put it down so she could take over. Once he finally did put it down, Daisy took over. Now, she wouldn’t leave the squirrel alone because she didn’t want Poe it have it.

Now feels like a good time to say – I don’t do dead things.

However, since Jon was at work and these dogs were clearly going to have a standoff in the rain all day over this squirrel, I had to find a rake and get it out of the yard.

Part of me is proud of my dogs, though. Despite being spoiled lap dogs who sleep on the bed with us, they caught a squirrel.

And I can’t be upset with them. They just did want their instincts told them to do. And since they don’t know any different, and haven’t been trained to not chase squirrels, they really didn’t do anything wrong.

Gross. But not wrong.

Sometimes, I treat my spiritual life in this way. I have been a Christian for a while, I go to church, I have Christian friends — I should be able to live based on my natural instinct and be okay. Said another way – I should be able to go on “auto-pilot” and be okay. After all, I am only human, God knows my limitations and my good intentions. He loves me regardless.

While God does know my limitations, and God does love me regardless of my mistakes – I still have to be purposeful in how I live.

During these months of social distancing and staying home, I’ve realized that I fall into laziness very easily. Including in my spiritual life. These aren’t new character qualities by any means, but our current situation has allowed them to grow unfettered. However, when I look at Scripture, I find that verbs like “striving” and “pressing” are used to describe our spiritual development. In fact, the New Testament makes it clear that when I correctly understand the magnitude of God’s love, the result is a growing desire to pursue holiness. Not to earn salvation or merit, but as a response to knowing God for who He really is.

When I find myself coasting, going on auto-pilot, or trying to justify laziness — I’ve become complacent about who God is. In those moments, rather than continuing to do what comes natural, I need to strive for a deeper relationship with God, seeking holiness above comfort.

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