Pastor Jean Newell, Associate Pastor, Sun Lakes United Methodist Church
Duke’s his name! He’s a basset hound mix and a rescue dog. At this writing, he’s asleep on the floor behind my desk chair. How did he end up there? His new owner, who is a friend of the family, was scheduled to go on a business trip this weekend; when he and Duke met a week ago, it became necessary to make arrangements for the new addition to his household. Hence, we’re “dog-sitting” this weekend. Compared to Ember, my daughter’s rescued Rhodesian ridgeback year-old puppy who is a boundless ball of energy, Duke is a mellow fellow.
Growing up, my brother, sister and I were not allowed to have pets. Dad forbid it. The closest we ever came to having a pet was when we had a goldfish, until my sister cleaned the fishbowl with Clorox. Needless to say, it was shortly thereafter that the fish swam his last stroke.
Time passed and when I was on my own, I was bound and determined to have a dog. Over the years, I’ve owned a German shepherd, two collies (one a sable color like Lassie and one a tri-color with white, sable and black coloring), a cocker spaniel and a Bernese mountain dog I co-owned with the breeder. As a result, it’s not a surprise that a dog is once again a part of the family!
What is surprising is that instead of investing in purebred dogs, we now find ourselves welcoming rescue dogs into the family. As I consider the pets my children and I have had, including birds, fish, cats and gerbils, it’s the dogs, purebred and rescued, that have brought with them the element of unconditional love. I see it every time my daughter walks in the door, whether she’s been gone for several hours or only a few minutes. Ember is eagerly waiting at the door, beside herself with excitement as if to say, “I missed you! I love you!”
I wonder, might that be God’s response those times we’ve been away from God? Whether it’s for several years or only a few moments, and we find ourselves turning back to God? I believe so, because we worship a God who loves us unconditionally and eagerly awaits our return as if to say, “I missed you! I love you!”
All we have to do is open the door!