Thursday, July 7, 2011


Tabitha and I spent July 4th at an off-leash dog park near Minnehaha Falls. Fawkes the Dog went with us, of course. Many of you surely know about dog parks, this strange modern phenomenon. But since I only discovered them last year, after adopting our pup, let me explain to those not in-the-know.

Dogs like to play. Love to play. Or, if your dog is like my dog, live to play! And any ole kind of playing is appreciated- chasing a tennis ball down the basement stairs, tugging a warring a rope toy shaped like a monkey, wrestling and pawing and rolling around, and getting the tummy rubbed. So hard, a dog’s life. But the Ultimate in Doggie Play, or so it is for Fawkes, is running full speed in wide-open spaces with another dog in chase. Playing with Tab and I certainly makes Fawkes happy. Playing with other dogs, though, particularly ones that want to play too (an important distinction I’ve learned…), fills a void in her canine soul that her people just can’t. So we take her to dog parks; wide-open areas (usually fenced in) near people parks where dogs can run and play together. Whoever initiated the trend was a brilliant soul, I believe. It allows my dog to do what she loves most, which in turn exhausts her, decreasing the danger of her chewing up our sofa pillows, increasing the likelihood of her sleeping early and waking late. For owners of older dogs, these last concerns aren’t as immediate. But Fawkes is still a puppy, and an energetic one, so again, to whomever invented The Dog Park: Bless you, dear soul.

Of course, my wife will tell you that my loving dog parks took awhile. I worried constantly (still do, sometimes!) about Fawkes running off, or fighting with other dogs, or hurting herself, or… Other dog owners would bring their furry friends to the park, release the leash, and then casually chat with other owners, occasionally checking in. Me? I’d avoid any conversational distractions and hover over Fawkes, mirror her every move, making certain that if any dust-up went down, I’d could immediately to step in and care for my dog, and keep her from fighting. Thus, the dog park experience, in the beginning, was more anxiety producing than enjoyable for me. Fawkes loved it, I knew, but again, it took me awhile to simply let go and trust she’d be okay.

Something I’ve written about before, and believe still, is that a good working definition of “faith” is not the oft-used “your list of beliefs” but something more active- “trust.” To have faith- in God, yourself, your family- is to trust them. Trust they’ll be there for you, not hurt you, work for your best interests and so on. But while I’ve thought a lot about our end in that equation, our building trust (i.e. faith) in God, I haven’t done the same for God’s side. How does God build trust, build faith in us?

I mean, it’s a two-way street, right? If my dog trusted me enough to come back to me when I let her off leash, but I thought she was too slow to respond and stopped trusting her enough to take her to the dog park, well, it’d turn her trust worthless. Not to mention bum her out! Does it work that way with God? Did it take God as long to trust Creation and the humans that evolved as it did for me to feel comfortable with dog parks? Or was God more like my wife, who instinctively loved the park and knew what good it would be for Fawkes, despite the potential troubles? As in many things, the answer is probably- my wife! Or rather, God just seems good at putting trust above fear, love above control, much better than me, or most of us at least.

Whatever the case, I pray this week you’ll think with me more about how God trusts God’s people. God’s faith in us. And perhaps recommit yourself to earning that trust, to making God proud again of how loving, open and compassionate a child of God you are.

Grace and Peace,

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