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The Dogs of Stay: Maggie and Discipline

I am delighted to share a brief snippet of my new book Stay. The book releases in less than 2 weeks. You can pre-order a copy now by clicking here.

Today Maggie and I traversed the usual path. She sniffed and I listened to a podcast as we paced briskly through a comfortable Texas fall morning. She spotted something and moved toward the curb. My eye caught something at the same time, and I jerked violently on her leash to pull her toward me.

She looked surprised, puzzled at what she had done wrong for such a harsh correction from me. The truth was that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Some knucklehead had shattered a beer bottle and a jagged piece was right in her path. She could have been seriously cut by the razor-sharp glass. I was thankful I had spotted it, but I could see that my action confused and maybe hurt Maggie’s feelings. I needed to assure her that my unexpected reaction was not punitive but entirely out of my love and concern for her.

I immediately dropped down to my knee, scratched Maggie’s ears, and verbally praised her. “It’s okay, girl. Everything’s okay. It’s okay.”

I was glad that she perked up immediately. Her uncertainty vanished, her drooping tail began to wag, and her beautiful eyes brightened again. She understood we were good again. It was another lesson for me to ponder.
How many times have I responded in confusion and hurt when God gently or not so gently pulled me off a path of destruction when I had no idea what He was doing? If only I would trust and love God as much as Maggie trusts and loves me. Instead I start second-guessing when God throws me a curve or allows a high-and-tight fastball to knock me on my keister. I get out the transgression magnifying glass to detect which sin might have caused God to withdraw His favor from me, occasionally throwing pleading glances heavenward.

Right on cue during the morning walk, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian answered my question with this insight.
“Until we see God-sent storms as interventions and not punishments, we’ll never get better, we’ll only get bitter. Some difficult circumstances you’re facing right now may well be a God-sent storm of mercy intended to be his intervention in your life. You’re in danger, and either you don’t realize it or you’re living in denial.”

Precisely. God sees the jagged glass that I am about to step on and He pulls me back in love. The problem isn’t with Him; it’s my response to the correction. I am shocked, hurt, then pout—the Dave Burchett default mode. Thanks Maggie, I need to pay attention to your lesson. You were startled and hurt when I gave you such a strong correction, but then you instinctively looked at me. As soon as I assured her that I loved her and all was okay, she was fine.

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Simple for her, and it should be for me, too. I am still learning to trust that God loves me when I feel He is disciplining me.

Taken from Stay by Dave Burchett copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.