A few weeks ago, I was in Virginia visiting with friends. We were sitting at an outdoor, dog friendly restaurant, overlooking the beautiful Shenandoah mountains. Gideon was calmly laying by my chair on my left side. The weather was perfect and the other dogs that were with their owners were well behaved and calm. My friend and I were catching up on life after not having seen one another in years. The scenery, temperature and environment were near perfect!

Then it happened…a couple with a chocolate lab on a retractable leash walked in and was seated not too far from where we were.

I looked over, and the dog was laying by the owners, happily chewing on a bone. I made a mental note of the retractable leash and continued to converse with my friend. The sun was starting to go down and the shadows were making visibility a little bit difficult. The combination of the dusky light and my attention being taken by enjoying the fellowship I was having caused me to completely miss what was about to happen. All of a sudden, I hear a low and serious growl emerge from Gideon. As I immediately look down at him, I notice the chocolate lab, the retractable lead fully extended, and the full force of his wiggling happy self jumping on top of Gideon. Needless to say, Gideon reacted quite poorly to this. He did not bite him, but certainly told the other dog loudly and definitely that his behavior was not acceptable. The other dog listened to Gideon and quickly backed off.

My full attention was now on my sweet but stressed out shepherd dog. I got his attention, fed him treats, petted him, and gently encouraged him to settle down. Without another thought, Gideon’s full attention turned back towards me. With complete focus and intensity. His eyes, ears, and mind were one hundred percent on my voice, my body language, and my calming hands. My first thought was “wow, I underestimate this dog all the time… he is so good!” I was yet again impressed by Gideon’s immediate obedience and attention.

My next thought turned to how I react the same way when something happens that stresses and frustrates me. I react intensely and fiercely in ways that are not honoring to God. My reactions are emotion based, and lean towards self-entitled thoughts. The difference between myself and Gideon, is that when the Holy Spirit convicts and prompts me to turn my complete attention and focus back towards God, I do not immediately respond. Instead, I bask and wallow in the negative attitudes of what I think I deserve and how I was wronged.

Jeremiah 29:13 says ” You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Through the humble example of my black and red shepherd dog, and the truth of God’s Word, I have been convicted that I do not seek and focus on God with my WHOLE heart. While far from there, I am learning to turn towards God with everything that is in me instead of focusing on negativity, and what I think I am entitled to. Praise the Lord for his grace and patience with me as I continue to grow in Him!