This week we’ll continue our three-part sermon series, “The Gospel According to Dogs: What Our Four-Legged Friends Can Teach Us,” with “Trust and Obey.” In this lighthearted look at how the nature of dogs illustrates some important points from the Gospels, we’ll examine another quality we readily find in dogs that can remind us of the nature of our relationship with God.
Trust. Have you ever thought about the amazing amount of trust our dogs place in us? They are completely reliant on us. Sometimes, in fact, their very lives are in our hands. They trust us to feed them — to open the cabinet, scoop the right amount of the right kind of food into their bowl, and of course, go to the sink and fill their water dish with fresh, clean water, sometimes several times a day. Dogs trust us to make sure they get plenty of exercise. Have regular checkups and inoculations. And when they gladly jump in a car with us, they trust that we will take care of them wherever we go. They trust us to take them to the vet when they’re sick, to teach them how to behave so they can participate in family activities — and that when they grab a nap on the sofa when you’re not looking, that we won’t be mad for too terribly long.
Could dogs survive in the world without humans to care for them? Of course they could — and have for centuries. But there is something about that special relationship we form with a dog that invites trust — that bond that compels a dog to do his or her best to please you — and to obey what you ask them to do, even if they don’t really understand it. And likewise, we feel this trust and want to do our best in return.
What can we learn from this kind of trust? One of the synonyms of the word “faith” is trust. In fact, in most places in the Bible you can substitute the word “trust” where the word “have faith” appears and the meaning will be the same.
Psalm 23 expresses this trust in God in good times and in the darkest times: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters . . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” What a powerful statement of trust in God!
So looking back to the trusting eyes of our dog, do you now see the model as described in our text for trusting God and trusting one another? I know I do!
Obey. We want our dogs to be obedient and often they are. Well, no one is perfect — including our dogs! Watching them wrestle with obedience and trust, which go hand in hand, we can learn something about ourselves in that regard too.
I look forward to exploring these ideas more with you on Sunday in the Sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.