A little over a month ago, we got a puppy.
It was kind of a stupid idea, really. Sure I love dogs. My husband loves dogs. My kids love dogs. My husband even promised me he’d be really disciplined with training him. And he is, when he’s home. That’s the funny thing about staying home with your husband’s pride and joy – the training, the poop on my new floors , the pee on the carpet, the jumping on the kids, the eating of the children’s toys – that all falls on me.
Joy. Pure joy.
The first week we had him, he was new and cute and loveable. The second week I’d lost my stamina and wanted to burst into tears at any given moment. I became stressed. Tense. Annoyed. I started yelling. Why did we get a dog? Why did we get a puppy? When you have two young children, that just doesn’t seem logical. I clean up enough poop, pee, and break up enough fights throughout the day, thankyouverymuch. [As I write this I’m ignoring the fight over a lego. Really. Because there aren’t enough legos. Ever.]
I wanted to send him back. I wanted to sell him on craigslist and increase his price by $50 so I could at least consider him an investment.
Then I opened my Bible. I didn’t expect God to give me an answer for how to handle my puppy. But I needed something…guidance, strength, patience, peace. And I needed a large dose of it.
I was in Numbers. I’ve heard the story of the Israelites wandering the desert with Moses for decades. They grumbled, they complained, they begged Moses to turn them around so they could go back to Egypt and return to a life of slavery and bondage. All the while they forgot to trust God in the process and believe in His promises.
“Now the people complained about their hardship in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.” Numbers 11:1
If there was ever a verse that made me feel like a brat, this is one of them. Look at my life. Sure I know many people much more affluent than me – some friends have nicer cars, nicer clothes, bigger houses, a nanny. But honestly, we live a great life, a fulfilled life, a life full of joy. We have more than enough of everything even when we believe in our minds that we need something more.
And I’m not wandering in the desert. With nothing but what I can carry on my shoulders. With two young children saying they are bored or tired or cold or hot or hungry. I mean, can you imagine? And these were God’s chosen people. He was leading them to a place much better than any of them could have ever imagined, to the land of milk and honey. And yet, they had virtually nothing (by American standards).
But they had enough. Manna fell from Heavens high. [Exodus 16:4-5] And when they complained, God sent them quail. [Numbers 11:31]
How often do I complain…er…beg for God to send me more. “Give me something else!” “If only I have that, I can deal with this!” Whine. Whine. Whine. Nag. Nag. Nag. Complain. Complain….
I have to wonder how often God has been angry with me. Truthfully, I feel entitled, materialistically competitive, and I give in to the desires of the flesh even when I hear Jesus whispers, “Careful…” Numbers 14:18 says, “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving in sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…”
I am not slow to anger. My frustration rises faster than the dog can finish eating Maci’s corndog…off her plate. I sin and rebel every day. I know Truth and I understand Truth but still my bones ache for things of this world. God has enriched my life with love, hope, and joy. I’ve also been fortunate enough to live a life of luxury. Honestly. We have a roof over our heads, food in our pantry, central air in the summer, and heat in the winter. Why do I still want more?
And I don’t deserve any of it. I deserve death. Praise Jesus. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” [Isaiah 53:5]
Now even though in my mind, the Israelites had every right to complain. (I mean, put yourself in those conditions.) That’s not the point. The point is life isn’t meant to be comfortable. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. When things are comfortable and easy, we get complacent. And when that happens we forget to lean on Jesus. He is our strength. He is our treasure. He is our comforter. He is our peace.
The dog still jumps on the kids and knocks them over. He still eats Maci’s food. He still wakes up an hour earlier than the rest of the family. [But he no longer pees on my floor! Progress!] But so what. If my only complaint/frustration in my life right now is an adorable puppy picking fights with my 2 and 3 year old, then my perspective on life is totally twisted.
It’s funny how God can use a firecracker of a fur ball and something that happened 3,500 years ago to snap me back to reality.