I ate cookies for breakfast.

That was the only thing handy in the kitchen besides potato chips. And everyone knows you shouldn’t eat potato chips for breakfast.

Would it help if I told you it was 11:00? It seems a little more forgivable to have cookies for lunch. But then I would have to admit that the day was half over when I entered the kitchen for the first time. It was 11:00 and I had accomplished nothing. Nothing but finishing a good book that had kept me reading into the wee hours and then kept me glued to my bed in the morning.

I guess it goes without saying that I recommend the book–Laura Story Elvington’s, “When God Doesn’t Fix It.” I can’t remember the last time I read any book over a single weekend. I’m not even sure when I last finished a book. But the deeper look into the struggles Martin and Laura faced during his brain tumor and dealing with his resulting memory loss had me pondering through many of her insights about the God who sees and yet lets us suffer. God allows circumstances to show us that our problem is sin.

By 2:00 pm, I could still only claim to have crossed two things off my list. I was still in workout clothes–which means I hadn’t had a shower.

And I hadn’t actually worked out. I was just dressed like I was going to when I pulled in at Peaceful Way to pick up Julie Ann. She had spent several days there playing with Jack while we were in Kentucky.

Julie Anne seemed happy enough to see me when I entered the garage. She quickly lost her enthusiasm, however, when she realized what was coming next. But I had to do what I had to do because my little white dog looked more like a nasty grey wolf. She had dirt, grime, grease, and just general filth matted through her coat. It was a good thing I hadn’t bothered with clean clothes and a shower because this was going to be a mess.

Julie Anne fought me as I placed her in the sink and held her under the stream of water. She squirmed and slithered in my grip as I lathered whitening shampoo into her nasty fur. It was not coming clean easily and she was certainly not making it any easier.

I didn’t enjoy it any more than she did, but it had to be done. It was fine to run around the farm like a street urchin, but I knew once I took her home, she wasn’t going to want to be outside. She was going to want to be with me. She was going to want to cuddle in my lap, perch in my chair, snuggle on my couch, lounge on my carpet, and roam through my office.

I couldn’t let that ball of dirt do any of those things. I just couldn’t. If she was going to be with me, she was going to have to be clean.

But she sure wasn’t happy about it.  As I adjusted my hold on her soapy, squirming self, she seized the opportunity to try to spring from my hands.  I let out a bit of a shriek as I struggled to maintain my grasp.  What she thought was a leap of freedom would likely be death by concrete.  It was a long way down and there was nothing between my soapy hands and that garage floor.

By some miracle, I was able to hang on.  Barely.  So rather than a dead dog, I just had a half clean drama queen slithering back into the sink.

I was too relieved to be irritated at her.  And even more than the relief, I felt a twinge of humility that came from a pointed picture of myself in the hands of my Creator–perhaps more freshly in my mind after my read of “When God Doesn’t Fix It.”

He comes for me.  He picks me up when I am a mess.  He wants me to be with Him, so He takes me straight to the sink.  In love, He begins to clean me up.  I squirm, I twist.  I try to get away.  And He holds me close.  Directly in the way of the constant stream of cleansing water.  Patiently scrubbing the dirtiest, nastiest, most unattractive parts of my being.  He isn’t trying to torture me…It just feels that way.  And it takes longer and hurts more because I fight Him all the way.  We’ve been through it hundreds of times, and I still don’t trust that He knows what is best.  I’m convinced I’d be happier if I could only jump out of his grip.

When Julie Anne was back to a recognizable state, I set her down and she shook violently.  No gratefulness, just good riddance.  She couldn’t wait to get away from me.  She would look 100 times better when she dried (provided she could stay out of the dirt long enough), but she didn’t seem to care.

She is a dog. And some things she will never fully understand. That’s why I don’t let her make her all own decisions. Because she would go splat.

She would probably do things like eat cookies for breakfast.

So…I haven’t learned this lesson: this lesson of embracing the scrubbing process. I venture to guess you haven’t either. And neither has Laura Story Elvington.

God doesn’t have an obligation to “fix it.” He might. He might not.

But He does have an obligation to clean it. To purge it. To make us more like Him. If we want to be like him, He must clean us up. And while I may feel broken in the process, I’m learning to embrace every reminder that helps me squirm a little less and trust a little more. Fight a little less. Rest a little more. Complain a little less. Praise a little more. Be a little less like myself and a little more like Jesus.

5 thoughts on “Lessons from a Dirty Dog

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