My dog Jack has his own following, and we frequently run into members of his fan club as we take our walks around the neighborhood. It’s not unusual for an oncoming car to stop just ahead of us, its driver hopping out to make contact. “Oh, Jack! I’m so glad to see you!”
The list of those who love him doesn’t end at the gate to our neighborhood, either. If I take him to the bank, tellers Ann and Cathy always have treats ready, even if we’re in the drive-through. When they spot his profile in the back seat, the tube-traveling canister quickly brings a bone right out to him.
Like most dogs, Jack shows appreciation by tail-wagging. We’ve learned to read his wags and have them categorized: high, medium, and low. Maybe it’s because he’s got a thick tail, but most of his wags are mediums and lows. Whatever the reason, a high wag is saved for only the best of friends.
One of Jack’s many fans stands above the rest, someone who receives lots of high wags. Her name is Karen, and she lives just around the corner from us. Karen loves dogs and often babysits for other people’s canines. But she keeps a special box of Milk Bones in her kitchen just for Jack.
Every time we walk near Karen’s house, Jack begins watching for her, his head turned and eyes glued to the front door, even after we’ve passed. If Karen sees us going by, she comes outside ready to give hugs, back rubs, kisses, and a bone to her furry friend. He loves her back with enthusiasm.
But Karen does even better than that. She faithfully leaves a bone on her front step for him. From the street Jack looks, wags, and strains at his leash, pleading to “go to Karen’s.” When I unclick him, he runs to her front door, stepping over the treat, in hopes of getting to her. If she doesn’t appear, he heads back for his treat. What he really wants, though, is Karen.
Jack has never doubted the strength of her love for him. If he didn’t know how to wag, she’d love him anyway, and he knows that. If he was hot and tired, unable to head for her porch, she’d come to the street to greet him. It doesn’t matter to her how Jack behaves. She loves him no matter what.
This relationship is a sterling example of exactly how the Lord loves all of us. It’s a no-matter-what kind of love that never wavers, regardless of what we do. The question is, do we love him back as enthusiastically as Jack loves Karen?
After a few minutes with her, I re-leash Jack and tug him toward home. But he always looks back longingly for just one more glimpse of the one who loves him so well, the one he enthusiastically loves back in return.
“Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” (Psalm 33:22)