Allegory of a Puppy

Over the weekend my family did something that I never thought I would do in my life….we got a puppy. My wife and kids have been on me about a dog for years, but it has really ramped up over the end of 2021 and the beginning of this year. Now, I “had a dog” when I was younger. The pitbull, Vanity, was not mine, but rather my older brother’s, so I did not have a real connection with her. I tried playing with her some, but over the years it never took. When she died, I wasn’t really sad, and I didn’t think a dog would ever be in my future. I would see the puppies and think that they were cute, but in the end, nah. Dog life wasn’t for me. I didn’t play with other people’s dogs. Somehow my own family turned me against my conventions and I found myself, in the middle of the first week of our fast, praying for a puppy. For goodness sakes, I was even following puppy accounts on Instagram!

Long story short, a family friend offered us the last puppy from a Goldendoodle litter. A beautifully black puppy. When I saw her for sale originally on my FB feed, that is when all of the subversive strategies of my family really broke the dam loose. I fell in love. Head over heels. On Sunday, we drove a total of 6 hours there and back to retrieve our little girl, Beauty. Driving back home, she cuddled on the front seat with my wife, and as I reach over and rubbed her head, she placed a paw on my hand. I melted. (Who am I even?)

Upon getting her home, of course she is skittish. I have never had a puppy, so I just watched as the kids played with her. Day 2 is where things got interesting. Beauty is hyper. She loves to run around, but when we call her, she doesn’t answer. She doesn’t know her name yet. And when I was praying this morning, God brought that to my mind. Beauty doesn’t know her name, so she doesn’t respond when called. So many of us don’t know what God calls us, or know how God has named us, so we don’t respond when He calls. Now it gets deep.

See, on Beauty’s birth certificate, her name is listed as Duchess Francesca because they have to put a name down. So, for us to come up with a totally different name for her, 10 weeks in to her life, well, it is foreign to her. She can’t properly respond to training and commands, because in a sense, she doesn’t know who she is.

How many of us are living lives devoid of love, life, purpose, dreams, etc, because we don’t know that God has given us a new name? 2 Corinthians 5:17 even says as much when Paul writes, “Therefore if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creation. Old things have passed away and behold; all things have become new.”

If you have accepted Jesus into your life, your name changes and your very life changes! Just like Jacob became Israel, our name becomes “Saved”, “Justified”, “Righteous”, and “Loved”, yet sometimes even as Christians, those who have been adopted into a new family, we don’t respond to God as our new Master. If this is you, listen to me, you’re already new, it just takes time to know who you are. Just like our dog, Beauty, needs time to adjust to her new reality, you will require time to adjust to yours as well. It is a huge shift in life to move into a spiritual environment where you are quite literally called by a new name, with new expectations, and new love. It is a beautiful shift, but still…it takes time.

I will tell you that once you acclimate, your life changes forever, but I thought that I could help you a little and give you 3 ways to adjust to this new name that you have been given.

  1. Read your Bible. Now, you might read this and say “duh”, but there is more to this than you may think. One of the advantages that we have as Christians, that my my puppy does not have, is that we have a manual that we can read that shows us everything. It details who God is. Who Jesus is. Who the Holy Spirit is. (And yes, they are each very important and constantly at work in our lives). In the Bible, Jesus defines who we are through a variety of imperfect humans who are just like us. I would especially point out to you Ephesus (it comes after the book of Galatians) 1. This chapter has been especially HUGE in me understanding who I am in Christ, and it has freed me to really learn to hear God, understand His acceptance, and know His love.
  2. Pray. if you’re just starting out and don’t necessarily know what to pray, take the first point and just pray the Bible. I believe that some of the most effective prayer comes from praying God’s word back to Him. he has promised that His word (The Bible) is powerful and will accomplish all that He intends for it to accomplish, so prayers based on His word align with His heart. Just generally, prayer is a conversation with God. Since He is always with us, we can always talk directly to Him. You don’t have to scream and shout. God is not deaf. Just talk to Him, and He will confirm in your innermost being (your heart) that you are His.
  3. Find community. I am increasingly convinced that when we invite people into relationship with Christ, plugging into a community of people, whether in or out of a church building, is the best way to help them orient to their new reality. Having people to hold us accountable and help disciple us is the way that church works in the New Testament. God does not mean for us to walk this pathway by ourselves, and what better way to understand newness than with others who are now in the same love that you are?

Beauty will discover, as we move along together, that there are so many good things in store for her with our family. She will be loved completely, have her every need cared for, and though things may get challenging at times, she will never be alone. We will be there for her, and she will bloom and blossom as she gets used to us and learns her name. God offers these things and more to all of us who take the time to learn and acclimate to the new name that He gives us. It’s not about the blessing and favor. It is about His presence, which is the best gift ever. You’ll learn.

And because shes so cute, here is another picture!

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