The Bible often uses animals to teach us something - sheep, goats, serpents, wolves in sheep's clothing, and there's even a talking donkey. This past week I learned something from my dog.
For Father's Day I got a new gas grill, so last Saturday I set out to put it all together. That's never an easy task, especially for a DIY flunkey like me, but I accepted the challenge and unloaded all the pieces on my back porch. It was moderately warm outside, so I opened the door to let our dog inside assuming he'd enjoy the air conditioned house rather than be outside with me, but to my surprise he refused and took a place on the back porch as I worked.
In all, it took me about an hour and a half to put the grill together while Zeebo, our dog, lay on the deck. At one point I took notice of him and there he was with his panting tongue hanging out, and a thought dawned on me. He would rather endure the heat and be close to me rather than be more comfortable inside but away from me. I was impressed by his dedication while I began to question mine.
Am I dedicated enough to God to endure the heat or do I retreat to comfort as soon as the temperature rises?
God followers have always found themselves in heated situations. The heat was on Jewish prophets when their message of repentance was rejected by their very own kings and queens. The apostles felt the heat when they were told to stop stirring up trouble with their talk of the resurrected Jesus. The early church experienced literal heat as they faced the threat of being burned at the stake unless they recanted their faith in Jesus.
The heat has always been on God followers and it has always been easier to retreat to the comfort of conformity rather than face the heat of ridicule and oppression. Am I, are you, dedicated enough to the Lord to endure the heat and be with him or will I, we, desert Him to the comfort of conformity?
Jesus asked this very question to his apostles as at one point in his ministry people started to feel the heat of discipleship and many deserted Him. As the crowds retreated Jesus turned to his most dedicated followers, the Twelve, and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter, in the spirit of Zeebo, replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
Regardless of how heated it got Peter knew that it is always better to be with Jesus, the giver of life, than to be without Him in the cool and comfortable confines of conformity.
It's hot out there and maybe getting even hotter, and the dedication of all of us who call ourselves Christians is being tested. When tempted to abandon Jesus, I'll think about my dog who endured the heat just to be close to me. May I be so faithful.