Our sweet male dog is going blind. He has no vision in his right eye due to glaucoma. It was a relatively fast progression- no indication that there was difficulty until one day, his right eye seemed swollen and blood shot. On examination the vet diagnosed glaucoma. He now has the pressure in his eye checked periodically and receives eye drops each day. Interestingly the eye drops are the same that people use for glaucoma. When I asked the vet where I was to get his prescription she said, “ your local pharmacy.” The first time I had to send in a Rx and then pick it up for the dog I was ready for them to ask for his birthdate and ID.
Since losing his vision, I have noticed that Marley is a little more tentative in coming when he is called. Not that “Mr Obedient” was super attentive in that category. He also has run into door jams and other areas where he is missing some depth perception. And he can miss dropped food even when it is pointed out to him.
Sometimes I wonder about the lessons I see with him and my spiritual life.
I certainly am hesitant to be obedient to God’s call. There are things that I know that I should do and that I don’t and things that I do that I shouldn’t. While it doesn’t excuse my behavior, I am in good company. The apostle Paul said much the same, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.“ (Romans 7:15; New Living Translation)
I think it comes down to trust and control. While in my head I may know that the God of creation, the God who made my inner-most being has the very best for me in mind, I still am hesitant to trust and believe that He really knows what He is doing. I still think I need to be the one calling the shots. As in the case of Marley and his disobedience, at best, he can miss out on receiving rewards because of his hesitancy and at worst, it could lead to injury or death if he doesn’t listen promptly.
There is an old hymn, “Trust and obey. For there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” At our Tuesday night Bible study we were discussing the word, “submission: the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.” It is a word that isn’t very popular, but as one of our ladies pointed out, submitting to another’s authority causes that other to be responsible for the “submittee”. In essence, it lightens the submittee’s responsibility and provides some freedom for the one who is submitting. That can bring about a lightness to our burden of life.
I have no depth perception when it comes to the big picture. Just like Marley, I can get tripped up by things right in front of me: perceived injustices, misunderstandings, frustrations, delays, perceived barriers. All the things that limited vision cause. I can easily become focused on me and my needs and forget those around me. When we are “looking in the mirror” it is easy to stumble and run into things. We need to listen to the Master for guidance as we walk through this journey of life. The old hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” captures the image of us fully relying on God for our perceptions: “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart, Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art, Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”
And I can certainly miss opportunities even when God directly points them out to me. When God is specific in His direction for me (which can be in the form of universal truths through His word or through His Holy nudges) I will look every where else before going in the correct direction. Much like Marley and his sniffing in every direction around the morsel of food. He might sniff the shoe molding a foot in each direction before he comes back to the spot where the dropped food is located. There is a lot of backtracking.
If I listened to God initially, not only would I be able to discover what He has in store for me, but I might even get a second opportunity for something else. When He has a lesson for me to be learned, if I miss this first opportunity, He will keep providing other scenarios for me to learn that specific lesson. In essence, I cannot “move on”. My delaying hampers my growth. My choice.
Kind of like the parable of the king inviting his people to attend a feast. Many had other opportunities and excuses- “I have bought a field and need to go and see it; I have bought oxen and need to look them over, I am just married and cannot come.” (Luke 14: 15-24) So the king ordered his servants to go out to the street and invite anyone they saw- the poor, maimed, blind and lame. The king was going to have his banquet. Those who missed it, missed it. Once an opportunity is missed, it is missed. God’s purpose will be done whether I am joining Him or not.
What about you? What lessons have you learned from your dog? Your cat? Your pets? Where are you on the spectrum of obedience? What is impeding your listening to God’s call? Are you blind to what God is showing you? How can you improve your vision? Is it a matter of “thy will be done”? Or, do you need to “see” what He is showing? Is that through reading His word? Praying to Him? Seeking spiritual guidance and direction from a mature Christian?
While our one-eyed dog can be an independent knucklehead, I have noticed that he does stay close to me on dog walks. He relies on me being on his “bad” side so that he can use his good eye to see what is going on. I guess he trusts me enough to be on the side where he cannot see, knowing that I will be his eyes. What an image for me to remember- allow God to be my eyes, so that all that I see is what He sees.