One of my favorite hymns is Loyalty to Christ
(but only when it is sung in a syncopated jubilee style - no judgments)
A person's behaviors in human to human relationships is a direct reflection of how one understands and perceives their personal relationship with God.
The past couple of weeks have been very different than normal. The Cover-19 has changed everything and every quickly. It has given me a lot of time for reflection.
Much of that reflection has been about my daddy and the ways he taught me to assess and respond to everyday life. I am a daddy's girl to the core. My father has been gone/transitioned out of his 'earth suit' as he called it, for almost 6 years now, and the adjustment has been challenging, but I have done my best to continue, as we all do with the loss and grief that is a part of life.
The last week or so, I have thought long and hard about the concept of loyalty. It is one of the components of HESED. Often translated as 'lovingkindness', but is actually much more, more inclusive, and one of those inclusions is Loyalty. God is way more loyal to us than we are to God. But as Christians, we work towards being in a stable and consistent relationship with God.
This morning, I woke up to pray and memories of a situation came to mind:
Once upon a time, I used obedience train and show German Shepherd dogs (GSD) for show in the categories of obedience and confirmation. Much of the time spent with the dogs were to get them ready for their purpose, to win in dog shows. All of our dogs were AKC registered for show and breeding........ But each was also the family companion pet.
What particularly came to my mind was this one dog. He was beautiful with great pedigree, had great potential to win every show that we entered him in. He had a beautiful gate and a wonderful coat of fur, his stature and stack were spectacular. He was a champion in the making. We had every expectation of him winning national competitions. And of course, as his handler and trainer, it would have put my name on the map in the industry. We put a lot of time and money into, not only the purchase of this puppy, but in raising him for his destiny. He was our family pet, but he was an investment in his own potential to be a winner. Together we could have conquered the dog show arena everywhere we entered competition.
The problem was that this dog did now see or value his potential the way that my daddy and I did, nor did he have any loyalty to being a member of our family. No matter the gifts that he was created with and the potential that he had been trained to reach, in his heart he saw himself as nothing more than a common stray. Often he would dig his way out of the fence and be gone, some times for days. My daddy would say, just put his food out at dinner time and he will come home to eat. Most of the time, this was the case, like clock work, he would run back to the yard like nothing had happened. But he would be dirty and have all kinds of things stuck in his beautiful coat of fur. I would clean him up so that he could come in the house, and take his place as a member of the family. Repeatedly he would run away while he was supposed to be outside in his fenced run (a fenced area specific to the need for exercise and muscle building common to large dogs, especially those who lived primarily inside). He would dig his way out, repeatedly we tried all kinds of ways to keep him from getting out of the fence, but where there was a will, there was a way. We would worry about his safety and search for him, with no success most of the time. We had to just have the resolve to wait for him to return home.
Then, one night there was a bad thunderstorm, with lots of rain and hail. We got in my daddy's van and drove around searching for this dog. We were worried that he would get hit by a car, or be shot by someone who was afraid of a dog who was simply taking shelter from the storm in their yard or on their porch. After hours of searching with no success, my daddy said there was not point in us being in danger by being out in the storm looking for this dog. My daddy reassured me that the dog would find its way home, as always. But what my daddy didn't tell me in that moment was that he was fed up with this stray mentality.
Just like my daddy had predicted, a few days later the dog showed back up, horribly dirty, but safe. But this time would be different. My daddy was prepared to sell the dog to a kennel, that wanted him because of all of his potential. This way, my daddy didn't lose all of his financial investment, as he would have if the dog had gotten killed during one if its run away adventures, and now those straying behaviors could be someone else's concern and not ours. The dog stayed gone so much and became such a headache that he really wasn't missed as a family pet, so much as a relief to no longer have to deal with the mentality of a stray.
Soon my daddy and I would pick out a new dog. We would have a new show dog in the house, one that appreciated the love and care of our home. One that would be a great companion, loyal and with great features for dog show competition and pedigree. This dog wanted to be a winner, this dog wanted to be a member of our family. And this dog would go on to win competitions, but in truth did not have the potential that the previous dog had, but did what the previous dog could not stay put long enough to do = win.
I said all of that to say, that with people, their behavior is a direct reflection of their relationship and loyalty to their faith in God. A person can't behave in a way that is not established in their mindset and self perception. Just like the dog that I once had, people can be spiritual strays and it will be manifested in the way they live their life, and the value that they place on the love and care that they receive from others. This void in a person can only be filled and healed by God's redemptive work in the life of the individual.
While we have this time of social distancing, lets take the time to evaluate and re-evaluate where we are putting our time and energy, and pray for spiritual strays. Know that it is not your job to keep them on track spiritually, because salvation is personal and only Jesus Christ can be their Savior and LORD.
Whether anyone goes with you are not, 'press toward the mark of the high calling.' - Live and Love like a WINNER. Keep the Romans 8 mentality.