A Message from Pastor Craig: 12-5-2021

         So, we recently got a puppy.  His name is Hunter, and he’s a stray rescue from Puerto Rico (he ignores us in both languages).  Until this last week, he’s been a very quiet dog – we’re working on that, but generally is well behaved and is as mellow as a 6 month old puppy can be.  We love Hunter.

         We have not allowed our dogs up on our furniture in the past.  We have provided, and particularly for this dog, pretty comfy pads to sit on, just not on the furniture.  This time around though, Janice has allowed me to pull the dog up on my lap in just one recliner – it’s kind of dedicated to that.

Now, Hunter has grown in these months that we’ve had him.  He was a puppy that I could easily pick up and put in my lap.  Now, he’s bigger and heavier, and it takes a little more work, but he likes it enough that he puts up with the momentary uncomfortableness.  He puts up with it because for a little bit, he enjoys my undivided attention, and he gets petted.  Whether sitting straight up like he’s surveying his domain, or laid out pretending to sleep, he revels in the attention.

I enjoy the ritual as much as he does.  I really do.  But after a while, I just want to sit there, not having to physically pet him all the time.  As soon as I stop, though, he complains.  He motions with his nose for me to get back on task, or will pursue my hand until I resume the massage.  And when I insist that I’m taking a break, you know what the little ingrate does?  He snorts!  Then he waits for a second or two to see if I’ll change my mind, then he jumps off my lap.  Really?!  He loves me as long as I’m petting him, then nyeh! he’s off to something else.

I think Hunter represents all of us in our relationship to God.  If God is blessing us, if God is lavishing attention on us, we’re all in.  We can pride ourselves, not unlike Hunter sitting straight up on my lap, in God’s presence and blessing.  But if God stops the positive strokes, we quickly are on to other things.  We get
distracted by whatever else lies out there.

When God’s positive strokes are not immediately felt, that does not mean that God has quit caring.  It does not mean that He means ill.  Sometimes He just stops.  Kind of like me wanting to just enjoy the presence of Hunter without having to do anything to keep it.  We can quickly decide God doesn’t care for us, that God is too busy with more important people than us, or even get mad that God is mean, when maybe, just maybe, all God wants is to have us just relax and be.  Without the strokes.

I’m really hesitant to make too many comparisons between my relationship with God compared to Hunter’s relationship with me.  It makes me out to the be the dog at some point!  But I truly believe that God cares for us more than we can ever care for a dog.  And I do seem to recollect myself snorting a time or two when pedantically feeling uncared for by God.  Anyway, I just know that the One who created us loves us.  And provides.  At Christmas we can get to thinking that God provides like Santa Clause.  No.  God’s provision is from an all-powerful, unconditionally loving Creator caring for all that is His.  And for some odd reason, He just likes for us to relax and enjoy His presence for what it is.  Let’s take some time to do that, even in the business of this season.

Merry Christmas all!

Craig

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Matthew 6:25,26