The Jealous Dog

I stared sadly at my Golden Retriever. Her normal 18-month-old spunk was missing today. In fact, it had been missing for the past several days. Oh, she trotted along beside me on our run all right, but instead of charging out huge figure eights among the trees and taking off after gulls and geese, she simply sniffed the grass at the side of the road, barely able to keep up.

I had seen her like this only one other time. It was the time I had been away for 3 days and everyone in the house had thought that someone else had fed the dog (See for THAT story!). But this time, I hadn't been away. No one had forgotten to feed her. In fact, her food dish was standing in the kitchen at the very moment, filled to the brim!-As it had been for the past three days! Her lack of energy wasn't related to NOT being fed, it was related to the fact that SHE refused to eat! It gave a whole new meaning to the expression, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!"

So why wasn't she eating? I knew the answer to this question. We were hand-raising two baby Lineolated parakeets. These tiny creatures initially need to be fed 6-7 times a day, and for the past several days, she had been forced to watch me, HER "mom", feed-by hand!-these two tiny birds. With each progressing feeding session, she had eaten less and less, until she finally stopped eating completely. She wasn't eating because she was jealous that I would pay attention to a creature other than her!

I didn't know what to do about it. I had been spending more time with her than usual. In fact, in anticipation of this particular problem, my boys and I were making an extra big effort to play with her. She was almost constantly involved in a game of fetch or chase or "romp", all her favorites, and only rarely had she been left on her chain to bask in the sun. She had even been allowed to swim in the pond-her absolute favorite-even though it is still way too cold to swim! What more could I do? I had to continue feeding the baby birds!

My only hope was that she would eventually be able to see beyond her petty jealousy, that she would be able to recognize truth: That I still loved her as much as ever, that she was still important to me, and especially that I WAS still spending quality time with her, just as always!

As I thought about all of this, I became a little bit angry. Why couldn't she see how petty her jealousy was, anyway? Why couldn't she see that the boys and I was spending even more time than usual with her? Why couldn't she see that my love was big enough for her AND two baby birds?

But my next thought made me stop dead in my tracks: I am JUST LIKE MY DOG!

I gulped, trying to dismiss this aggravating idea, but it wouldn't go away. Just like my dog always had me there to play with her and take care of her, I have a loving Heavenly Father Who provides for every one of my needs, Who loves me, Who cares for me constantly, and Who desires more than anything to spend time with me. He feeds me Spiritual food-His Word, His fellowship-on a daily basis. All I have to do is "eat" it! Yet what do I tend to do when problems come along? I get so focused on the "problem" that I can't concentrate on anything else. As a result, Bible reading becomes rote and I stop spending intimate time with Him.

Sound familiar? Oh, our "baby birds" can come in many different shapes and sizes. Some look suspiciously like financial problems, others like job loss and relationship difficulties. And of course there are the "baby birds" of illness, false accusations, and the consequences of our own bad decisions. But whatever our "baby birds" look like, the deeper into the problems we are, the more likely we become to stop spending that time with the Lord, to stop "eating" that Spiritual food! And then we so often have the audacity to cry out, "Lord, where ARE You! I NEED You! Why are You so far away?"

Why do we react this way? Because we become so focused on the situation at hand that we fail to recognize the daily blessings, that during these hard times, God pours out on us in triplicate! We get mad at God, we refuse to eat my Spiritual Food, and the "baby birds" loom bigger and bigger!

So where does the solution lie? Stop focusing on the problems, the circumstances, the sins. Start "eating" our "Spiritual food" by spending time with the Lord in reading His Word and prayer. And while we're at it, we need to start focusing on finding all of the blessings that God DOES pour out on us everyday! We need to remember how often He's given us reason to trust Him! We have to start "ignoring" the "Baby birds" so that we can enjoy what God IS doing for us!

When we got home from our walk, my dog finally DANED to eat. It was over. She had finally stopped focusing on the baby birds. She had started realizing that she STILL had most of my attention. What about us, friends? Shall we also start looking beyond our "baby birds" and go back to eating our "Spiritual food"?

Lyn Chaffart

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