LOVE: Anything but Easy (Pt.1)
Charissa Ee shares 7 How-tos on Loving God in this 2-part series inspired by her gentle resue dog, Lady-Mae
In the past couple of weekends, we’ve been hearing about discipleship, covenant and promises. We know that discipleship is a journey. Interestingly, God used the journey from Egypt to Israel to teach his people about discipleship. In essence, this journey was the beginning of discipleship.
As I am pondering about what God is saying to us in this season of Lent, a recent article in The Straits Times by well-known journalist, Sumiko Tan, helped me to encapsulate what God has been stirring in me. Tan, in her March 13, 2016 article wrote about her sick dog and how easy it is to love dogs versus loving humans.
Contrary to that article, my own dog didn’t teach me that love is easy. Lady-Mae, my rescued street dog of 4 years, taught me that love is anything but easy. She’s given me 7 lessons of what being a disciple looks like in the 21st century.
LESSON 1 : Loving God means being willing to be ridiculed
I never realized people’s biases until I adopted Lady-Mae. When I adopted her at 4-months of age, she was still rather small in size. Unlike most puppies who are silly, cute and all over the place, Lady was not like that at all. She was a very serious puppy; gentle and rather skittish. Whenever I took Lady out for walks, I never failed to encounter fellow residents who would literally screech and scream in terror just because they saw a brown puppy walking next to me.
Even though Lady-May is a well-adjusted dog today, I still get people who would pass snide remarks. Some, when they see my dog, would walk far away as if I were a leper. Some would scold me, while others would tell their children not to walk too close for fear that my dog would bite.
Lady-Mae teaches me daily that following Christ mean being willing to be jeered at just because we decide to follow in God’s ways.
LESSON 2 : Loving God means giving generously & sacrificially
Since I adopted Lady-Mae, I’ve been an active volunteer for a local shelter as a fosterer. One of the roles of a fosterer is helping to house and train a dog until it gets adopted.
One day, Lady-Mae brought her chewed up stuffed toy, dropped it in front of our foster pup and walked back to her bed to rest. The young pup took it and enjoyed chewing on the tattered toy. As I witnessed this moment between these two dogs, I could hear the Holy Spirit tell me, “That’s exactly what it looks like when you give your all.”
Giving is not about giving out our excess. Giving is about being sacrificial. 1 Chronicles 21:24 [NIV] says, “But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
LESSON 3 : Loving God means accepting what God wants
Lady-Mae models to me daily, how a surrendered life to Jesus looks like. So, when Pastor Michael Ross-Watson was recently talking about dying to self, the image I had was how Lady-Mae was so willing to walk a familiar road with such zest and eat the same kibble everyday like it was something new.
Dogs die to their rights so easily. Once they find their place in a pack, they accept their roles and position within that pack and never question it. When they are living with humans, they adapt to our modern lifestyles and rely on their humans for everything – even something as simple as a pee break. That kind of daily reliance really rings home for me and causes me to reflect the extent of my reliance on God.
LESSON 4 : Loving God means being willing to be inconvenienced
In a fast-paced society like Singapore, we are usually busy with our daily schedules and places that we need to be. Most of us have a plan that includes what we want to do, to achieve, etc, but most often than not, our plans aren’t exactly what God has in mind. My parents often remind me of this proverb, “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” [Proverbs 16:9 – NASB]
Over the years, I’ve experienced many times when I am inconvenienced but I have learnt to hold my breath, wait and see what divine opportunities come my way. Since I’ve had Lady-Mae, I’ve received countless blessings and many of those blessings have come out of inconvenienced times.
Out of our many experiences, this is one that I hold dear to my heart…
Lady-Mae and I were scheduled to attend an event at Bishan Park on a weekend. I decided to book a taxi 2 days in advance just in case I couldn’t find transport on the day itself. Despite having my booking confirmed, an hour before our designated time to leave home, the taxi company called to inform me that the driver had cancelled the booking and that they would be getting me a replacement.
The company found a replacement driver promptly. However, the replacement driver also decided to cancel his booking with me 20 minutes prior to pick up. The hunt continued for another driver and this time, I took Lady-Mae down to wait for the taxi once the company called to confirm a third driver for us.
When the taxi arrived, I was shocked to find that the driver was a Muslim. I told him that there must have been a miscommunication with my booking and that I would call for another taxi. To my surprise, he replied that there had been no miscommunication. He had seen my booking 2 days before and when he realized that no one wanted to pick me, he answered the call.
The driver was a grandfather in his late 60s who used to live in a kampong and told me that mongrels are probably the best dogs to have as pets because they are so loyal. My point in all of this is that the driver was a very devout Muslim who risked a lot just by fetching Lady Mae and myself.
This incident taught me that being reliant on God humbles us and that when we go with God’s plan, we will always be refreshed.
Lady-Mae and I still take the public transport today.
– Look out for the lessons 5, 6 & 7 on loving God in the second installment of LOVE : Anything but Easy –
Charissa is a trainer for both humans and dogs, and loves to put her observations and musings down in writing on her blog, The Orange Chalk. Very often, you’ll read about her rescue mutt, Lady-Mae, whom God uses to refine Charissa to serve like a servant and lead like a royal.