Monday, December 20, 2010

God and Gatsby playing ball

It's almost time... I've been counting down since my mom's visit in October. And finally, it's almost here- it's time to go home for Christmas! I've been singing my own personalized version of "Over the River and Through the Woods" which includes stanzas about the Cocker Spaniels and Christmas treats and friends and family that are waiting for us! I've got the presents wrapped and the budget tweaked and the refrigerator empty of anything perishable. It's almost time to go.

But since two people and two doggies will be traveling together for almost 21 hours in the car, I have some serious plans for my canines today. This is the first time Andy and I have done a long distance trip together with the doggies. The other trips we've made, we've been in separate vehicles, and we each take a Cocker for company. We're looking forward to getting to ride together, but the doggies are going to be a little less happy about not getting to ride shotgun the entire trip. Since they'll be cooped up in the backseat for two days, I decided to let Gatsby and Daisy get some good exercise this morning, so I took them out to the vacant lot adjacent to our apartment complex.

I take the dogs out to the vacant lot on a fairly regular basis. I cut back in the summer because I was afraid of rattle snakes. The lot is overgrown with all sorts of Texas grasses and scrubby plants- there are even cacti out there! But Gats loves to go out there and play ball. I'll throw his ball and he will bounce all around like he's jumping on invisible little trampolines hidden under the grass while he searches with his nose.

This morning, after playing ball for about five minutes, I chucked the ball rather absentmindedly- I was thinking about packing lists and laundry loads and road trip snacks- I didn't see where the ball landed exactly, and neither did Gatsby. I watched Gats bounce around looking and sniffing for several minutes to no avail. Then I decided I better get in on the search or we would be out in the field all morning. I started walking through the grass and brambles in the general vicinity where I thought the ball had landed. I saw nothing- not even a hint of red rubber. Gats wasn't having any luck either.

After several minutes, I decided it was time to ask Abba. I called Gats over and said, "Do you want to ask Abba about it?" I've done this with Gats before when I couldn't find a toy of his- brought Gats over and prayed, asking Abba to tell Gatsby where the ball is. Inevitably, he returns with the ball within minutes, even after he and I have searched fruitlessly for long periods of time. So I knelt down by Gatsby and held his collar and asked God to tell Gats where his ball went.

I was a little discouraged to see Gats run off in the complete opposite direction from where I knew the ball had been thrown. A minute passed and I started to walk through the grass again, feeling silly. I began to sing the words to the song, "God of Wonders" in my head- they say, "God of Wonders beyond our galaxy, You are Holy, Holy. The Universe declares your majesty. You are Holy, Holy." God speaks galaxies into existences. He knits human beings together inside of women's wombs. He makes snowflakes that never look like one another. And I was asking Him to tell my dog where his ball was.

I think about Gideon a lot in moments like those- how he asked God to perform some tricks on that fleece- and God didn't seem to mind. But I bet Gideon would have still gone out and fought all those Midianites- even if that fleece had been bone dry. In his heart, I think he was already a believer, I think it was interaction and confirmation that he craved. I was thinking about that as I was walking, my back turned to Gats beginning to think we'd lost the ball, about how it wouldn't really make much difference if that ball never showed up again, but that I just like to think about God interacting with me and Gatsby out in the vacant lot. It's just nice to think that He would want to play with us. Just then, I turned around and looked in a direction much farther than I thought the ball could have gone- to see Gatsy emerging from the thick grass with a red ball in his mouth.

I'm sure there are people out there who would argue that God has much better things to do than play ball with me and Gatsby in the vacant lot the day before our Christmas trip. But I know that God liked to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. And that Jesus died so that we could do that sort of thing again. There are battles with Midianites and there are moments when we have to choose between life or death for the sake of Jesus Christ. There are moments when our faith is all we have and God seems a million miles away. But those are places we visit as we run the race. The goal is fellowship with God Himself, and I think that there are some moments when we catch glimpses of what that will look like in Forever. Today, when Gats came prancing out of the weeds with that ball in his mouth, I was certain that we'd all been playing together- me, Gats and the God of Wonders- and that that is how it should be.

"Thank you, Abba." I said. And threw the ball again.

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