I began my Advent devotional time yesterday. Typically, this is a very meaningful time of year for me, as I get up before dawn and settle into prayer with my coffee and my Bible and the sweet presence of the Spirit around me.
This year, however, my time of prayer has been significantly impacted by this–
Our new puppy Felix. It’s really hard to read my Bible in the morning while Felix is chewing on it.
The photo captures him in a peaceful moment. He’s darling when he’s asleep. The rest of the time, he’s terrorizing our old dog Oscar (yes, we named them for the Odd Couple), or chewing on furniture, or finding someplace dark and secluded to leave a small turd.
Getting out of the house now has become a somewhat acrobatic feat. Felix is small, but he’s quick. Leaving him in the backyard requires that I leap from the deck to the gate, swing it open as quickly as possible, and
slam it behind me before he can slip out underneath it. We’ve both been injured (no permanent damage) in the process.
Like every challenge God puts on our path, the presence of this new life in our family is sanctifying. To be sanctified is to be made holy. To be made holy is to be led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). By these measures, the care and attention required by a puppy is sanctifying indeed:
Will I love this dog, even when he just whizzed on the carpet…again? Will I be joyful about him when he’s chased poor Oscar into the bathroom…again? Will I be at peace when he’s just bitten my nose? Will I be patient when he barks for 45 minutes after being put in his crate for the night? Will I be kind when he’s chewed off the shoelaces of my walking shoes? Will I be generous with his food, even when he’s been eating from Oscar’s bowl all day? Will I be faithful to him, even when I momentarily consider shipping him to my sister? Will I be gentle at 5 a.m., as I stand outside in the cold waiting for him to do his business in the appropriate spot (not my laundry room, kitchen, kids’ bedrooms, etc.)? Will I be self-controlled when many of the above-described events take place while I’m trying to make dinner?
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
The blessings of the Holy Spirit—even via a puppy—are no more to be desired than now, in this busiest of seasons, when our focus must be Jesus. It’s hard, I know. There is so much to distract us from the real meaning of Christ’s birth. Let’s find the ways we can to open our minds and lives, following where this Spirit leads us.