I just finished eating a late breakfast while watching episodes of West Wing on DVD, and as I started clearing up my plates, I looked down at my feet to see which dog was hanging around.
Usually, whenever they hear any kind of activity in the kitchen, they come running. Some snack or little bits of left-overs, even just some pre-dishwasher plate-licking is always sure to be found. And if not found, then coerced with that longing look they’ve mastered so well that pulls on my heart-strings. There are times when, after they’ve watched me eat for a while, they come to the realization that nothing is coming their way, and they wander off, going about their own doggie-business. But sometimes one of them will linger anyway, laying quietly, staring hopefully, expectantly, perhaps honing in with their doggie-intuition that “something good is going to happen”.
Today, oddly, not one of them was around. They’d already abandoned hope and were busy watching birds or chasing squirrels in the backyard. Too bad. I was actually in the mood to sneak one of them a treat. Ah well, “Good things come to those who wait …”
And that struck me. How true, in a spiritual sense. And images from various scattered bible passages flooded into mind. The unjust judge giving in to the widow’s requests for justice because of her simple nagging. The neighbor who dragged himself out of bed in the middle of the night because of the persistent pounding on his door by his friend. That whole, “ask, seek, knock” thing, teaching us to be persistent in our prayers to God. If even these rascally fellows give in due to persistence, wouldn’t God who delights giving good things to his children give us our requests more gladly?
But too often we act like my dogs today. They were there while I was eating, but they disappeared just when the “giving” was ready to be dished out. And I was actually disappointed that I was deprived of the opportunity to sneak a treat to one of them. Their lack of patience today robbed them of their earlier expectations.
How many times do we so earnestly desire a thing — a new job, a raise, a spouse, some urgently needed answer — but we don’t hang around long enough to get it? If we’d just spent a little more time hanging around God, a little more time simply waiting, or like my dogs, laying quietly at my feet, paws crossed, but with eyes following my every movement in anticipation…. Who knows how many answers, how many treats, we’ve missed because we got bored or distracted, and went about our business, chasing our squirrels or watching our elusive birds. And all the while, God was on the verge of providing us the very thing we’re seeking — even WANTING to give us that tasty morsel.
Zack, Clarice and Rascal* all came wandering back in a little later, curious to see what they might have missed. But by then, the plates were already rinsed and in the dishwasher, the stove and counters were wiped down, and the kitchen lights were out. “Sorry, babies, not this time.”
They were so eager a few minutes ago. But because of their impatience, their lack of persistence, we all left the kitchen disappointed this time.
* Dog names have been changed to protect the innocent.