How my dog taught me about God

Written by Bethany Jarmul

Buddy is a small, black dog with beady eyes and two insatiable desires- cuddling and chewing on shoes, toys, and even fingers. He weighs about 10 pounds, but he’s the new king of our house. My husband and I adopted him from an animal shelter two weeks ago.

Sure, there are times when Buddy has tempted me to say a four-letter-word – like when he chewed through two pairs of my flip flops and one pair of ballet flats, or when I mistakenly stepped in his poo. But, somehow, Buddy has also reminded me of some important things about God and how God feels about us. I’d like to share some of these revelations with you.

  1. God created us.

When I look at Buddy’s tiny paws and wagging tail and as I get to know his spunky personality, I can’t help but think, “Thank you, God for creating dogs!” But what’s even more amazing, is that God not only created dogs, but every animal on the planet, the planet itself, and even – you and me.

Somehow the tiny lick of a tiny dog reminded me of the majesty and creativity of the Creator God. This small dog brings me so much joy! How much more does God look down at his creation (us!) and take joy in what he has created!

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” – Psalm 139:13

2. God eagerly desires us.

Before we adopted Buddy, I begged my husband to let me get a dog. Everyday for two months, I sent him a video of puppies escaping from a basket, or a picture of a dog wearing a birthday hat.

When the day finally came for us to adopt a dog, I woke up with a huge grin on my face! That’s how God feels about us! He eagerly desires for us to run into his arms! For us to become a part of his family. He’s jumping-up-and-down, kid-on-christmas-day excited about you and me! Even when we’ve run away from Him, He can’t wait for us to return to his embrace.

I think the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 illustrates this best. After the son has taken his father’s money, left his home and made a fool out of himself, the son returns home, ashamed: “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him… his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.  And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”

Did you read that last line? The father (God) said, “Let’s get the party started!” God wants to throw a party for you! All you have to do is return to Him!

3. God chose us.

Out of the 40+ dogs at the animal shelter, my husband and I chose Buddy. Why? Well, he was the right size. But he was older than we wanted, and in fact, I actually wanted a female dog. So why did we choose him? Because we loved him! We couldn’t imagine leaving that place without him.

This may be hard to believe – but God chose you! He chose you not because you deserve it, not because of anything that you did, but simply because He loves you. He has a plan for your life, and He is never going to leave you!

“Dear friends, God the Father chose you long ago and knew you would become His children.” 1 Peter 1:2

4. God loves us unconditionally.

Buddy was abandoned by someone who didn’t want him. He limps sometimes, and his eyes look crossed at times. He has chewed up my shoes, made messes with his food, and woken me up during the night. He has flaws. He has a rough background. He does things he shouldn’t do. But, do I love him any less? Of course not!

This illustration is even more powerful between a mom and her child. I have friends who are new parents- their daughter is two months old. They told me the story of how she pooped and it got everywhere – all up her back and through her clothes. So there she is, literally sitting in her own poop, yet their love for her is not any less. Sure, they want to get her cleaned up! Of course, they don’t want her to stay that way, but that doesn’t change the way they feel about her.

Sometimes we mistakenly think that God is cruel and unforgiving. We think that He sees us sitting in a pile of metaphorical crap, and that He doesn’t love us. We think He is so disgusted with us for our flaws and mistakes that how could He love us. Or if he did love me, He couldn’t possibly love me now?

Here’s the most earth-shattering, powerful truth on the planet. Yet it’s so simple, they made a nursery song about it: Jesus loves me, yes I know!

REALLY! He really loves you! He even likes you. And yes, He wants to help you wash away your filth. But, more than that, He just wants a relationship with you. He wants to love on you, and for you to love Him.

It’s probably the most well-known verse in the Bible. You may have heard it a thousand times. But today, read it one word at a time. Meditate on it. Because God loves you more than I love Buddy – and that’s saying something! 🙂

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Bethany Jarmul is blessed to be a part of the staff of Allison Park Church. She loves God, her husband, her dog, and gluten-free pizza – in that order. She was raised in West Virginia, but after three years in the ‘Burgh, her family tells her she’s picking up the Yinzer accent. She’s not sure she minds too much.