Tucker, our floppy-eared, golden cocker spaniel, that we thought was almost finished with his rascally puppy stage, has recently taken on the role of the neighborhood menace. Canines are supposed to bark and kick up dirt and make a regular “I’m king of this yard” spectacle of themselves as they mark their territory and guard their space. However, now when he heads out the door, he races across the street, bounding onto the neighbor’s lawn to drop off a small present or corner yet another neighbor’s dog on his own back deck, forcing the distressed dog’s owner more than once to come to the rescue. Just last week, we had a friend house sit for a few days, and we returned to find that our sweet Tucker had massacred his Abercrombie and Fitch jeans only after ripping a nice, large run in our living room rug. Dogs might be a man’s best friend, but with a friend like this …
My wife Miska made the disconcerting observation that our dog is now “that dog.” You know, the one all your neighbors and friends talk about. Tucker has a reputation.
The thing is, I don’t like Tucker’s reputation. I don’t like being the owner of the dog who others refer to as the “terror of the cul-de-sac.” I want to have the dog all the neighborhood envies and everyone stops by to see. I want a dog that looks like he could win best of show, that never disobeys; and it would be really nice if he would clean up his own poop.
I want perfection.
But this shouldn’t surprise me. It is a familiar theme for me. I want my life to go well, my family to be in perfect order, my marriage to always be pristine. I want to know all the answers, or at least know I am asking all the right questions. I want something that has nothing to do with reality.
Reality—God’s reality—reminds me that I am a broken, scarred, messy human living in a scarred, fallen world. This combination never yields perfection or anything like it. Yet I demand and claw my way through life, ever hoping for that Rockwell-esque snapshot of perfection.
I am growing to see that my sinful striving to create a world around me divorced from messiness and pain is my attempt to create my own meaning and existence, apart from God. God invites us to engage Him and His world, in all of its confusion and disrepair. He came to redeem, to make broken things whole. And He did it by entering a filthy world, refusing to ignore what could not be ignored, and offering Himself—His whole self—to a marred people.
And this is our world, our calling. In grace, God will shatter our ideals and thwart our best intentions so we see our own need and the desperation of our world. He may even use an overly exuberant cocker to do it.
Dig Deeper: (Luke 19[Winn is a pastor at Downtown Community Fellowship in Clemson, S.C., (dcf-clemson.org) and a freelance writer. He spends his free time playing with his wife Miska and son Wyatt. He is currently looking for a good dog obedience school.]
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