Lessons From a Stinky Puppy

"When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ's cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets."
Colossians 2:13-15 (The Message)

"Hey girls, where's Lantzer?" I asked this morning.

"Oh, she's right here, Mom," Jordyn replied.

Our golden retriever soon-to-be one-year-old puppy had been begging continually for fifteen minutes to go outside. Finally tired of hearing her whines, I opened the back door and let her out. And completely forgot about her in the usual chaos of making lunches, collecting finished homework, and packing backpacks.

She had been outside, unattended in our unfenced yard, for twenty minutes. My heart started racing. Lantzer has made huge strides in obedience, but, still, she is a puppy. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw Jordyn open up the back door to let the dog in. As I was heading to the kitchen, Jenna started gagging.

"What's that horrible smell, Mom?? Lantzer s-ti-nks! Ugh! I want to throw up!" she gasped.

Just then, I caught a huge whiff of putrid smell as Lantzer raced by me. I looked at her coat. Sure enough, she had found some tantalizing pile of something and rolled in it. It was all over her fur. The bus was coming in five minutes. With no time to deal with a smelly puppy, I called for Lantzer to follow us outside to the bus. I almost thought I saw a grin on her face as she happily complied.

After the girls had gotten on the bus, I eyeballed Ms. Stinky Fur and called her inside. Not surprisingly, she responded with the selective hearing that she suddenly acquires whenever it's time to go inside. I quickly readjusted my schedule to make giving her a bath priority number one. Not what I was planning on doing, but had to do to spare my carpet from the lingering scent I did not want on it.

"Lantzer," I called to her, "let's go take a bath."

She responded in a way I never have seen her respond before. She ran away with her tail between her legs.

"Lantzer, come here." I urged her.

I couldn't see her, but I could sure smell her! I followed my nose as it took me upstairs. I could hear her footsteps running away. After three minutes of calling and not catching her, I finally saw her at the bottom of the stairs. She looked guiltily up at me, knowing that she was not obeying.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated by this time. But I suddenly stopped from raising my voice at her. I looked at her pitiful little face, her tail between her legs, and her streaked coat full of filth. I changed my tone immediately. I got down on the floor, on her level, and held out both of my hands as I spoke to her.

"Lantzer, come here. I am not angry, puppy, but we need to get you cleaned up." I said in my most soothing voice.

She looked up at me. With some more gentle coaxing, she slowly came walking up the stairs to me. I took her by the collar--oooh, it had not missed the pile!--and walked with her to the bathroom.

I turned on the water and she, now willingly, jumped into the tub. I was thankful for this as she weighs seventy-one pounds. It was everywhere. I had to use more shampoo than I ever have. Fifteen minutes later, I had a clean puppy with oatmeal-and-honey smelling fur.

She jumped out of the tub, shook herself, and did her joyful puppy prance everywhere. As reluctant as she had been to get into the tub, it seemed that her joy at being clean was twice as apparent. She ran up and down the halls as if to say, "I'm clean, I'm clean, I'm clean!!"

Girlfriends, I have been Lantzer. I have gone outside the circle of God's blessing and rolled around in the filth of my sin. It seemed fun at the time. But my heavenly Daddy always called me inside again. At first, I ran from Him because of my shame. I reeked and there was no way to hide it.

"Come on in, Shawn, let's clean up." He so tenderly said to me.

But I ran for a while. He never rubbed my nose in it. He never said, "Oh, how could you? Don't you know better than that?" No, He got down on my level by sending His perfect Son Jesus Christ to make a way for me to be clean again before Him. Jesus became a real human being, even though He was fully God. He set aside the glory of His Godness for a time to take on real flesh and blood. Can you imagine? The King of the angels denied His glory and took on skin that was bruised, beaten, and ripped open under a Roman soldier's whip. His agony on the cross was every bit as real as it would have been for us, but then, heaped on the physical agony He experienced, He became the object of His Father's wrath for our sin. He died for every single time I have chosen and may yet choose to roll around in the filth of my sin.

And in exchange for my shame, He allows me to dance before Him, exclaiming with all my soul, "I'm clean, I'm clean, I'm clean!" Even though my sins were like scarlet, He has made them white as snow. I have the victory, not because of anything I have done, but because my Jesus has done it all.

Jesus, I cannot ever repay You for rescuing me from the filth of my sin. You have given me honor for my shame, riches for the poverty of my soul, and eternity with You in exchange for the hell that I deserve. Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.