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Throwing the Ball

Throwing the Ball

Upon waking this morning, my sore throat and congested nose revealed an opportunity to me—the opportunity to stay home and recover from this cold, as well as the opportunity to take seriously my recent conviction to remove the “noise” in my life so that I might hear God’s voice … if even for just one day.

As I showered, I thanked God for my job and the sick days the company provides. And then I laid out my simple plan: today was to be a day of prayer and Bible study. Today I would commune with God, most holy and powerful, in the quiet retreat of my home. Everything I was to do today, would be done with thanks and reverence to the One who makes all things possible.

I quickly gave thanks for my breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and enjoyed them thoroughly as the warmth of the sun filtered into the kitchen through the sliding glass doors. I then gathered my Bible and a notepad and a Bible commentary and placed them on the kitchen table before heading into the living room to pray.

I bowed my head in prayer, thanking God once again for this day. I asked Him to draw near to me as I would draw near to Him through the study of His Word. I’m pretty sure I prayed for some other things, but I can’t remember because I found myself suddenly distracted by the slobbery jowls of a particular black Labrador named Sadie.

I lovingly rebuked the dog, telling her that I would play with her later but that right now I needed to put God first. And with that, I went back to the kitchen and began to seek God in the pages of Revelation.

It couldn’t have been more than about 20 minutes when I finally just gave up. It was pretty obvious to me that while I had done my duty to crack open the Bible, God just wasn’t holding up His end of the bargain—no insight, no conviction, nothing. It was like reading a history book. Nothing is more boring to me than a history book.

It was then that I heard a strange noise coming from the living room; one that I could only describe as a “squishy squeak.” See, I had left the door open for Sadie to go in and out of the house as she pleased. And she saw that as an invitation to bring her “outside” ball, inside.

If you have a dog, you know the ball I mean. What once was a bright yellow tennis ball is now completely full of mud and covered with potato bugs. As she chews on it, the combination of mud and air that dribbles out past her lips is making the squishy squeak noise.

That very instant God chose to speak. Put down the book. If you love me, throw the ball.

He then began to show me a revelation of Himself through the slobbery, intense attention of my dog upon that ball, the dog’s “work” if you will.

Now, my dog doesn’t need my help to have fun. She loves to chase her tail; she loves to chew on a ball. She loves to throw the ball on her own and chase it. She is 100 percent Sadie and 100 percent dog, regardless of anything I do. But if you want to see this dog in her full glory, you’ll have to join in the play with her. You have to value what she values. You have to look at that putrescent lump of a ball and instead of saying “Ewwww,” you have to say “Bring it!” Not because you “should” or because you want to, but because she wants to.

And once you do, you better be in for the long haul. This dog will chase the ball as long as you’ll throw it. She will run until she collapses. Literally. And when you think she can’t even lift a paw? Toss the ball, and she’s off again. She knows what she loves, and even though it brings her to her knees, may even kill her, she never stops loving it. Never stops chasing.

As I shake mud and potato bugs off my hand, I can’t help but realize how much more must God’s love be for me.

God, teach me to value what you value. Teach me to see past the mud and grime of this life and recognize the precious objects of Your love. Meet with me, both in the quiet cleanliness of the prayer closet and the dirty, hands-on world You have created.

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