The “Dog Days of Summer” are upon us! The exact dates may vary slightly because the “Dog Days” are tied to the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. However, the Farmer’s Almanac gives the time from July 3 to August 11 this noteworthy description. These often scorching and oppressive days make us want to take cover in our house’s AC (except this author) or cool off in a swimming pool.
It was just before this period in 2020 that our family added a new member. Adding a new member to the family isn’t a novel idea since we have four boys and one girl, but adding a four-legged member was a different experience. If you know us, this was very out of character, but for the most part, it has been a good journey so far. Therefore, after having Tatum for a little over a year and as we are in the “Dog Days,” let me share a few spiritual lessons that we have learned.
Becoming part of the family
On June 12, 2020, we went to the Humane Society and looked at several puppies labeled “retriever/pointer.” We put several of them in a room to watch them move around and interact with us. After a few minutes, we settled on a female tagged “Honolulu .” Perhaps hoping that an all-expenses-paid trip to the tagged location name would accompany her, we adopted “Honolulu.” We took her out of her current environment and put her in a new home. We also changed her name. She wouldn’t be called Honolulu, but Tatum (Sam likes the Boston Celtics, and Jayson Tatum plays for them).
While we are in our sin, God comes to us with the Good News that Jesus died for us.
He does not want us to remain separated from Him, but He wants to bring us into His family. When we depend on who Jesus is and what He has done, God receives us as His children, and we are part of His family.
God also begins to change us once we are His. Tatum received a name change when she came to live with us. God also changes the name of those who believe in Jesus. We are not called sinners but saints. Another transformation occurred as Tatum spent more time in our house. She became more comfortable going from one room to another and checking things out, and we became more comfortable with her as well. At first, we thought she would be primarily an outside dog, but then she spent some time in the kitchen and on the living room floor. Before we knew it, Tatum was sitting on the couch, walking upstairs on the carpet, and even jumping on the beds. I think she learned that last one from the children. As the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, He checks out the various “rooms” of our lives and wants to make Himself at home. I am not necessarily advocating Tatum has free reign of our house, but the Holy Spirit should. He begins to change our thinking, speech, and actions to make us holy.
Tatum has taught us two other important lessons that revolve around resisting temptation and realizing your freedom in Christ. Maggie Ruth worked hard to teach Tatum to wait at mealtime and also to wait for a treat. Tatum can sit patiently with food in her bowl or a treat near her. She (usually) remains until you say “YES,” and then she eats her meal or treat. The interesting thing is that she doesn’t look at the food or treat while she is waiting. She will take her eyes off those and turn to look at her “master” (whoever is giving the food). Sin is out there, begging us to come and eat. And if we keep looking at it and how pleasing we think it will be, we will most likely yield to that temptation. Instead, look to the Master, Jesus. Fix your eyes upon Him (Hebrews 12:1-2). As we do, He will give us grace and a way of escape from temptation.
Freedom in Christ
One day Tatum also reminded us of the freedom we have in Christ. She was on a leash, so she only had a specific range of motion. Tatum could only go as far as the leash would enable her. However, the leash broke, and she could have been free. Tatum could have run from the yard and gone throughout the neighborhood and beyond, but she didn’t. She just sat down next to the house. I think she still thought she was hooked to the leash. Sin is similar. It has us bound and confined. However, through Jesus, we are set free. Jesus paid the price for our sin. We are no longer slaves to sin, but we have been set free to walk in life. If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus for salvation and eternal life, His grace covers your past sins, and He gives you a glorious future. He also empowers you to walk in freedom from sin presently. Realize what He has done and enjoy the freedom He provides.
Don’t settle for being bound by sin, but experience all that God has for you.
As the summer rages on and the heat bears down upon us, remember that God is still sovereign. He is in control, and He wants you to know Him. He primarily communicates with us through His Word, the Bible, but during these “Dog Days, “ He may choose to communicate differently. It could be through a friend, a circumstance, or a pet you didn’t think you would ever have.