Sunday, August 31, 2008

God's grief

I think I got a small glimpse into how God grieves when we fail him. Believe it or not, it came by way of our Giant Beagle Dog, Teddy.

Teddy is really Tyler's dog and he knows it. He is a bit of a "Mother Hen." He needs to be in the center of whatever we are doing. He would prefer if we make it all about him. He loves us all with everything he has. When we step on him or fall over him, he always forgives us happily, tail wagging. He greets us at the door when wecome home after having been gone with a "Snoopy dance," and he does the same when dinner is served. He has even forgiven us when, on occasion, we run out of food and he has to wait until morning to eat. He gets a little grumpy and will come by and lick me. I know he's telling me that he is basting me because if that food doesn't come soon...he's eating me first.

Lately we have all been out of sorts just a bit. Ashley is excited to be a Senior, but nervous about all of the decisions and responsibility of picking a college. Tyler is happy to be in High School, but nervous about going to his school. I have been stricken by early "empty nest syndrome" and Terry is tired of looking older than he is. (He got a man make-over today, and he's hhhhoooottt)

I have been reading the book, "Disappointment with God" by Phillip Yancey. He is a brave man. Most of us would never admit that we have ever disappointed with our Savior. This got me to thinking about grieving.At one point, we lost 4 family members in less than 4 years and one of them had a mean form of dementia before she passed, so I have seen many people grieve. I have held many a hand through the grieving process. I know I don't grieve properly, because my family always tells me I am "holding in my grief in." I suppose it is true. It is hard for me to mourn for someone who has attained that which I someday hope to attain. Heaven. I am not a crier, so I usually am stoic. I am good to have in an emergency because I don't have a panic button. So over the years, I've been closely acquainted with grief, but very seldom has my heart been torn out. The most grieving I do is when I see things in Christians, myself included, and churches that I know break the heart of God. Then I began wondering what is is like when God grieves. I know He grieves. The Bible is replete with numerous stories of people grieving God. For a biblical example, read about the Jews. Or how about this: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30" We wouldn't be warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit if it never happened.

This all converged Monday morning, the first day of school, into a spectacle I hope I never have to witness again. Terry left for work before any of us, including the dogs, were awake.Then we all got up early to start our day. This had not happened all summer and even the dogs had gotten used to sleeping in. Then their kids were with them most of the day. When it came time for the kids to leave for school, I heard Tyler tell Teddy he couldn't go to school and then he shut the door. I cannot ever properly describe the scene that followed, but I will try. He immediately started crying and jumping around like he was on fire. I called Terry at work to tell him to mortgage the house! The dog was hurt and I was taking him to the hospital. Terry didn't answer. The dog just kept wailing, but he also ran to the back door. I realized then he wasn't too hurt. Maybe he needed to go... He ran out and ran around the pool and began to try to dig out under the fence. He was trying to get to the kids! He was in a freak out because his "babies" left. (It might be because they left him with me.)

I made him come back inside. I checked him out to be sure nothing was broken. He was still baying and howling and carrying on like a paid mourner at an 18th century funeral. I sat on the floor with him and I held all 50 pounds of him while he wailed. A beagle snout turns into a great microphone when it is blasting in your face. Now, this was all not fair, because I had "have nervous breakdown" on my schedule for that morning because of that empty nest thing and he was stealing it. I sat and rocked him and we cried together for a literal hour. Then I noticed his tail start wagging and at that point, he was just using me for my ear scratching abilities.

He then went and put his chin on the window sill where he can see the driveway and stayed there all day until the babies were home. He forgave them for leaving them and pretty soon, he was back to "Snoopy dance" again

I realized that I grieve my Father when I walk away from Him. He yearns for me to return. He waits and watches. He wants to hang around with me and have my life center around Him. He does a happy dance, maybe not literally but you get my meaning, when we return. But those times when we leave Him or sin against Him, we break His heart. I can now imagine that if Teddy's grief is maybe 1/10,000 of God's grief, I don't want to be responsible for it. I also love knowing that as soon as we ask, we are back to "happy beagle" time. Immediate forgiveness. Beautiful. A promise you can count on. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9" Isn't our God beautiful and creative. I love it when he teaches me a lesson using props. I just hope they are a little quieter props next time.

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