August 20, 2018 by Amy Shatrick
When my husband surprised me last fall with a pug puppy for our 20th anniversary, life took a twisty turn. Yes, there were the usual training issues, like peeing in the house and chewing on non-toy items. We had choices to make for food, collars, training treats. We were prepared for all of that. But we did not anticipate the amount of attention the dog wanted, needed, and quite frankly, demanded.
Our two cats and Archie’s predecessor, Bindi, never needed as much attention as Archie. Bindi, a border collie/Australian shepherd mix, was as independent as they come. She was content as a sentry, grateful for food and water, but being petted and admired was not a necessity. Archie is the complete opposite. I do not think he could live very long if left alone. He wants to be involved in everything that I do, and I mean everything. If I’m cooking, he stands right between my feet. He wants to ride in the car, preferably on my lap. He follows me to the bathroom and gives me a mournful look when I close the door. He wants in the tub with me too. As I work in the garden, he is digging at my side. There is no place to hide. Archie is ubiquitous.
I’m not sure how to feel about Archie’s neediness. Is this normal? Should I be flattered or frustrated? The other day I was enjoying a few moments of early morning quiet, and decided to kneel for my prayer time. It was not to be. Archie spied me on the floor, and he was delighted. At first, he was sniffing around my head, especially my ears and neck. That tickled. He then put his paws on my back and pressed with all of his 22 pounds. Mom is on the floor—party time! He brought me all of his toys. When I ignored him, he began whacking me with his giant purple otter. Hard. That hurt. We must have looked ridiculous. I had hoped that if I ignored him he would calm down and lay next to me, but I was wrong. He was on my head, then on my Bible, blocking the words. He was in my face constantly. The prayer session was over.
Archie is a velcro pug. He can be repositioned, but he is not going anywhere. Where I am, there he is. He knows to whom he belongs, and no one is dissuading him from it. Archie has acquired the skill of abiding.
Many Christians struggle with the idea of abiding in Christ. The demands of life, spiritual opposition, and sometimes just a plain lack of desire keep us from the pleasure, power, provision, and peace that comes when Jesus is at the center our lives. Maybe you have not given much thought to spending time with Jesus. You may think that since you gave your heart to Jesus years ago, it’s all good. You look forward to heaven, but there is no real connection in the here and now. This is not a safe place to be. Scripture states in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
If Jesus is the Vine where all divine power for life and godliness is found (2 Peter 1:3), what keeps us from wanting to spend as much time with Him as possible? If we truly love Jesus with all of our heart, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-7), we will have a desire to establish a lifelong pattern of abiding with Him. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Let that thought sink in for a moment: apart from Jesus we can do nothing. According to the dictionary, “nothing” means a thing has “no interest, value, or consequence.” How intense is that? Many of us are feeling that we are of no interest, value, or consequence. Could we be branches that are disconnected from Jesus, the Vine? Have we tried to find our worth in the brush pile of the world?
Pray with me.
Father, forgive us for trying to find our worth, satisfaction, joy, and salvation in other things—things that are dead that can never fill us. Will You please do a work in us and draw us to Jesus (John 6:44). Help us to abide in You like my precious pug, Archie wants to abide with me.
In Jesus’s name, we ask.