“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matt 18:21-22
Our family dog, Oscar, is a very handsome looking cocker spaniel, if I may say so myself. He’s a lovely colour, a good size, has floppy ears, fluffy paws, a waggy tail and he’s great with children. He’s also a pleasure to watch when he runs with a bounding stride and sleek motion. Running is his true aim in life, asides from eating and sleeping. Give him a moment’s freedom and he’s off like the wind, usually on the trail of a scent or after something non-human that caught his eye and dared to move. Not that he’d know what to do with anything he caught up with as it’s just the thrill of the chase that he loves. It’s in his bones or, more precisely, in his pure bred genes. This, alas, is his downfall.
For all his endearing values, he has one weak area, an area that’s very common with spaniels. Take him for a walk and he wants to run. He pulls at his lead continuously with heavy panting, seemingly oblivious to his chocking himself. We’ve tried training techniques of course, starting when he was a puppy. We tried the sharp commands, the reward system, the pausing on walks till he stops pulling, the dominating “show who’s master” routine, the shouting, the yelling and of course, the “Oh, your impossible!” exasperation. No doubt we are not perfect in our handling of him but it does get rather tiring when despite all our efforts, he seems oblivious to our lessons and still yearns for that sheep, or cat, or bird or whatever.
So shall I get rid of him? Shall give up on him as a lost cause, take him to a dog home and swap him for something easier? Of course not. I love him, for all his faults. How can I do otherwise when he looks at me with those trusting puppy eyes that say, “Feed me. Walk me. Take care of me. Love me.”?
And if I can be so forgiving, how much more can God forgive us? After all, He loves us more than we can even comprehend, despite us being like puppy dogs, constantly pulling at the lead, not learning quick enough, making the same mistakes over and over and over again. God knows we’re not perfect but He still takes us in despite our inherent sinful genes. It’s always too easy to give up on ourselves when we fail but God has not. He continues the training every moment of every day and unlike my amateur methods, He knows what he’s doing. We just have to listen and obey. Seems simple enough, doesn’t?