My dog, Jackson, and I have lived together for five years now. Along this path I have discovered linkages between how my dog responds to me and how I want to respond to my God. Of course, the analogies are incomplete and not everything that Jackson does is noteworthy as a spiritual lesson. Like jumping up on the sofa when I am not in the room.
Recently I was put in mind of another illustration of our life in Christ seen in Jackson. Dogs often spend much of their idle time staring at their masters. Several of my previous dogs have spent significant time in this activity, although few have approached the commitment to staring at me that Jackson has.
Working from home allows me to spend a lot of time with my dogs. My office is in an upstairs bedroom that is part of the old Victorian turret on the front of the house. On the rounded wall there are three windows that overlook the street, with a window seat built in front it. Jackson has a dog bed on the window seat and from this comfy perch he can look out over the front yard and the entire block.
Jackson spends about half of his time there dozing in the sunlight and occasionally checking out the action on the street below. The rest of the time there is spent facing away from the window and watching me work. If I relocate to the kitchen to make coffee or lunch, Jackson follows me there and sits on his kitchen bed watching my every move. It is the same if I go outside to work or sit in the living room to read.
In particular, Jackson maintains constant direct eye contact, watching my every facial expression. If I spill something on the counter and make even the slightest change in expression, he reads that quickly and responds. Jackson is a Dalmatian and like most of his breed he is quite nervous, so his response is usually to leave the room and hide in a closet. I never raise my voice at him, but even a minor facial change seems to frighten him. He is what I refer to as “scary-intuitive.”
Hebrews 12 begins with these words: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” It occurred to me a short time ago that this kind of fixation upon our God is similar to the fixation Jackson maintains on me. Jackson is…
- Always attending to me – unless he is sleeping he is fixated on me.
- He is attentive to the most subtle of signals from me.
- He is quick to follow me wherever I go around the home, staying closely connected and keeping his attention on me (unless a rabbit or squirrel shows up in the yard, of course).
Is this not the kind of fixation we are to have upon Jesus our Savior, who indwells us by His Holy Spirit? Such a fixation is the expected outworking of the various descriptors of a strong relationship with Him. A Great Commandment love for Him that exceeds and excels all other loves (Matthew 22:34-40). An undivided heart that fears Him above all (Psalm 86:11). Having our minds set upon our God and not on earthly issues (Colossians 3:1-4). And of course, the Hebrews 12 passage above.
Watching Jackson watch me has helped to define the level of fixation our God desires from us. He desires in part because He alone is worthy of such a fixation. Nothing on earth, including myself, is as worthy.
Our God also desires this level of fixation from us because it is the best life we can live. When we are fixated upon Him like Jackson is with me, we will miss far less of what He is saying to us and doing in and around us. We will be able to tap into our best life possible, a life focused upon our God. This is the life for which we were created, for which we are equipped and connected, and for which we were redeemed. Any other controlling fixation, including religiosity and seemingly good social causes or expressions, will rob from us the joy and fullness of the God-life within us.
Like Jackson, I do not want to miss a thing my Master is doing, and I do not want to be robbed of anything that He has for me to complete my living in Him.