Maybe if I hadn’t been in middle school, I would have thought it was funny. But when you’re in sixth grade, it’s hard to laugh when others are laughing at you. I remember hearing an outburst of laughter and surprise when suddenly I realized that MY DOG was in my classroom! There was instant chaos as Charlie bounded over to my desk. There was no mistaking him for anyone else’s dog. Oh, he was thrilled to see me! My classmates thought this was the most energizing thing to happen at school in weeks. But my teacher and I… well, we weren’t exactly excited. My mom was as shocked as I was when I had to call her from the school office and ask her to come get Charlie.
Charlie was a boxer mix – a big dog and a good dog. I loved him although I didn’t appreciate his amazing sense of smell, especially when he did it again. He escaped from home and ran about one and a half miles up Providence Road (two lanes back then, but heavily traveled) to my school. After a twelve-year-old accomplice let him in the building, Charlie somehow found me – this time in science class. He was so happy to see me that he knocked over the teacher’s potted plants with his tail and jumped up and down in the soil.
Remember “Mary Had a Little Lamb?”
He followed her to school one day, school one day, school one day. He followed her to school one day which was against the rule.
It made the children laugh and play, laugh and play, laugh and play. It made the children laugh and play to see a (dog) at school.
Just how every sixth grade girl wants to be known.
Oh well, I couldn’t stay mad at Charlie for long. That’s how dogs love.
Now we have a “Toby” in our family. As I walk around the house, he bumps his wet nose against my ankle to remind me that he is literally right on my heels. Dogs win our hearts with their joyful devotion. As Charlie showed us, they’ll go to great lengths to show love.
A few nights ago, after I came home from a study of Romans and snuggled up with Caroline and Toby for bedtime, Caroline asked me to tell her the story about Charlie (again). As Caroline snickered at the scenario in her mind, I remembered Romans and our small group discussion:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“I can hardly comprehend how He loved me, chose me, and sought me out.”
“God loved me and drew me to faith before I ever had a thought of Him.”
“It amazes me that God pursues me.”
It’s true – without the initiative of God, we couldn’t recognize or value His love. As Thomas Aquinas described Him, God is the “first mover.” God goes before us even while He pursues us.
“You go before me and follow me.” Psalm 139:5
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1: 4 – 5
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…. We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4: 10, 19
Words can’t even describe what an astounding thought it is that the God of majesty would intentionally seek me. But the Word assures me that this is very reason Christ came. Luke 19:10 says “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
There’s nothing in me that would draw God to me, except that my sin magnifies His mercy.
In his commentary on Romans 5:8, John Piper says: “God’s love is shown in this—exactly in this—that His love did not wait for any moral improvement in us.”
God pursued me, not because I am lovable but because He is Love and without Him I am lost.
Hear His Shepherd’s heart in Ezekiel 34:
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land… I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…”
And again in Luke 15:
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’
Once again in Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my Shepherd… I have everything I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul…. Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” (New Living Translation).
The Message puts Psalm 23:6 this way: “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. “
All the commotion of a canine in the classroom is just a small picture of our Father’s joyfully persistent love for us. Let’s open our hearts to receive and return it abundantly!