Be Like George

Kristi Fritz first gave this musing as a devotional at a Mom2Mom gathering earlier in the month.

George, the yellow Lab, resting his head on Polly.

George, the yellow Lab, resting his head on Polly.

I am a visual learner and God has graciously provided me with two resident visual aids—my canines, George and Polly, whom I dearly love—to remind me of how I want to live out my relationship with Jesus. This may sound silly, but, I want to be like George.

My dogs are both Labrador retrievers, but that’s where the similarities end. Polly is extremely loyal to me, but aloof to pretty much everyone else in the family. She’s also smart and willful—a dangerous combination in both dogs and people. George, however, is your typical lab. He’s energetic, affectionate and eager to please me and everyone else in the family.

Every day, I take them out to the backyard. I’ll usually spend a few minutes outside with them, but depending on my schedule or the weather, I might head back in the house and leave them outside to play and get fresh air. Dogs need fresh air, right? Wrong.

Because they’re both very loyal to me, they don’t like being outside without me. This is both sweet and annoying. George handles the separation by walking over to the back door, sitting down and looking in at me longingly. If I leave him outside, he will eventually lay down at the door, patiently wait until I let him back inside. When I open the door, he always greets me with joy and kisses. He never seems to be bitter or angry that I left him on the porch.

Polly, on the other hand, gets mad at being left outside alone. She will inevitably find something valuable in the backyard—a toy or umbrella accidentally left outside, part of the sprinkler system, or her personal favorite, potted plants. She will then run around the yard with said object in her mouth until I discover what’s she’s doing and call her in.

At the sound of my voice, she might drop the item and come right in or continue to parade around the yard, hoping I’ll chase her. Or she’ll wander around for a bit until she decides that she’s good and ready to come inside. In addition to the mess Polly usually makes, she also ends up being gated in the mudroom by herself. I still love her, but, how I wish she would just wait outside patiently. Her disobedience makes me sad and sometimes angry. 

Polly does give me pause to think. Is this how I act when God asks me to wait for that answer to prayer? If I’m being honest, the answer is sometimes yes. But my dogs unknowingly encourage me to long to be like George when God asks me to wait. I want to patiently and joyfully trust him, not get bitter and disobedient. 

In keeping with her aloof side, Polly wants to know where I am in the house, but doesn’t necessarily want to be near me. She’ll usually come when I call her, but stop about three or four feet away from me. It’s the craziest thing. I either have to go over to her if I want to pet her or continue to call and coax her until she comes all the way over to me. I often wonder if she realizes how much love I have to lavish on her, if only she would come and receive it!

George can’t get enough of my affection. If I’m sitting on the couch, he will sit at or on my feet, and then put his paw gently on my lap as if to say, “Please, please, pet me.” Sometimes he’ll lay his head on my lap. He will lay down at my feet, content to stay there until I get up. He’s so endearing and has been known to turn friends who are so-so on dogs, into dog lovers, or at least George lovers.

Once during a Bible study at my home, a friend was sharing about something really difficult she was going through. She started crying. George got up from the spot where he had been laying and went over and sat right in front of my friend. He just looked at her lovingly while she pet his head and continued crying. It was honestly as if he knew she was hurting and just wanted to sit with her and offer comfort.

I want to be like George in how I approach my heavenly Father and others. I want to draw near to him, to seek him, to abide in him. He has so much love to lavish on us if only we would draw up close to Him. And as we abide in Him, our lives will produce fruit such as love, joy, peace, patience, all those things we need in abundance with those God puts in our path each day.

The last visual aid is at the 65-acre dog park I frequent with my furry friends. George and Polly absolutely love it there. It’s like Disneyland for dogs. About a year ago, I decided to do a little experiment. We were walking down a trail, when I suddenly veered off at a diagonal into an open field. I didn’t call their names to follow me because I wanted to see how long it would take them to notice my absence. I also wanted to see what they would do when they realized I was on a different path.

It didn’t take Polly long to notice my absence. She looked at me and I was so hopeful that she would happily run to my side and continue our walk together. Not a chance.

After a glance in my direction, she turned back to the original trail and trotted onward. I didn’t know whether to be mad or laugh. I shouldn’t have been surprised because this was so in keeping with her willful spirit, but I still couldn’t quite believe how bold she was in her rebellion. She continued on a little ways, and then I decided it was time to hit the “beeper” button on the remote control I held in my hand that would send a little “beep beep” to her collar.

I called her as I hit it but she didn’t seem to acknowledge me or the beeper; she just continued on her merry way. After a few seconds, I decided I needed to let her know I meant business. I called her name again and hit a different button on the remote that sent a very low shock. No response, not even a turn of her head. I couldn’t believe the depth of her sass.

By now, she had gone a fair distance away from me. Pretty soon the path would turn off to the left and she would be out of sight. It wasn’t safe for her to be roaming around the dog park by herself. So with great sadness, I turned up the voltage dial a little and hit the shock button again while I called her name. This time, she turned her head and acknowledged the slight pain, then reluctantly trotted back to me. I still loved her, of course, but I was so disappointed that she didn’t want to follow me until painful consequences were involved.

I was struck with how often I was exactly like Polly, following my own path and ignoring my Savior’s voice.

Where was George in the meantime? Running around, sniffing happily and exploring his surroundings. Like Polly, it didn’t take him long to discover my absence. But when he realized I wasn’t right beside him, he stopped and looked around, eager to find me. When he spotted me, he got this look of pure joy of his face and came charging at me, full speed!

I had to brace myself because when 90 pounds of dog races towards you and your knees, you’ve got to be prepared. He dodged me at the last minute, as he always does, and then circled back to greet me with love and affection. He continued to explore the dog park, but never got too far from me without bounding back to my side and checking in. He’d look at me with his big brown eyes, tongue hanging out of his mouth, as if to let me know that by my side was his favorite place to be. I was struck again by the profoundness of it all.

I felt like God was using George to tell me that when it comes to following him, I should emulate my joy-filled yellow Labrador. It made me desire to follow God so closely, to stay at his side.

My advice? Let's stop running our own race, set on our own path like Polly, and joyfully follow Jesus. Let’s seek him in his Word and get to know him intimately so that we will know his voice and follow him. He will give us the endurance and strength we need for each day.

Let’s be like George.