FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK: In case you haven’t heard, the Meyer household has a new addition to their family.  Believe it or not, it’s a dog.  Her name is Dixie and she is a full-blooded beagle. Though Marilyn and I said we would never have a dog again, I have to confess that as I’ve looked ahead to my retirement on August 31 of next year, I thought it would be kind of nice to have a canine companion who would go fishing with me and take walks with me in my much less busy schedule.  I envisioned a dog who would stay outside and have the run of all the acreage out where we live.  I pictured it as being a bit older so that it would be out of the puppy stage where it chews up everything in sight.  I thought it would be nice to have it come running to greet me when I would come home, yet not follow my car out to the highway when I left.  But I always thought, where am I ever going to find a dog like that?  Plus I hadn’t even brought any of this up to Marilyn.

   So there I was fishing on my day off a couple months ago when I saw this beagle on the other side of the pond.  There was another man fishing over there so I just assumed it belonged to him.  It did come over to my side, but was very skittish around me, not that I tried all that hard to pet her or make friends with her.  After checking me out, she went to the back side of our neighbor’s yard and started to howl as only beagles can do.  I think she was howling at some dogs that were barking in the distance.  Anyway, I quit fishing and went into the house and pretty well forgot about it.  I didn’t even mention the dog to Marilyn.

   But then a few days later, around suppertime, Marilyn all of a sudden said, “Look outside. There’s a dog in our back yard.”  So we went out to see it and tried to get it to come to us, but just like a few days earlier, she was very skittish.  We did get her to eat some lunchmeat and hot dogs, but we had to throw them to her.  She wouldn’t come close to us.  But after doing this for a couple of days, she finally got close enough for us to pet and she nestled her way into our hearts and became a part of our family.

   Of course, I wanted to have the veterinarian look at her so I took her to Mike and Britt Douglas’ office and aside from a few ticks, they declared her to be a very healthy dog, probably about a year to a year and a half old.  So the next thing on the agenda was to get her spayed because we didn’t want any unwanted male dogs coming around should she go into heat. 

   On the morning that I took Dixie in for her procedure, she had worked herself up into quite a frenzy because she doesn’t like riding in the car.  I had a collar on her with a leash, which she didn’t like either, and when I got her out of the car to take her inside the vet clinic, she pulled away from me and the collar slid off of her neck.  And off she went with me chasing her.  With the clinic right on Rt. 37 on the south end of town, I was afraid she would try to run across the road and get hit.  So there I was yelling her name, running after her, but quickly losing the battle because a 1 year old beagle can run a lot faster than a 63 year old pastor.  Some of the workers in the clinic saw and heard what was going on, so they came out and started yelling for Dixie to come back.  Then it happened.  She headed for the road and without looking to the right or left she ran across it.  Thankfully no cars were coming at that point.  So I, without looking to the right or left, continued my pursuit of our prodigal puppy. Again, thankfully no cars were coming.  I was about to give up and accept the fact that having Dixie as our dog was not meant to be.  In fact, I stopped and kind of knelt down and called to her one more time. When she saw me kneeling rather than chasing, she stopped and then, as if being directed by some unseen force, she did what I thought would never happen.  She headed back my way.  And when I asked her if she wanted a belly rub (which she just loves!), she rolled over in front of me and I was able to not only give her that belly rub but to also pick her up and get her into the clinic.  Never a dull moment in my life! J

   Well, as I got to thinking about all this, it dawned on me that if I could have just spoken in a language that Dixie understood, I could have explained  to her what was going to happen to her that day in the clinic and that I would be back to pick her up later in the afternoon.  I could have told her that we had her best interests at heart and that once she recovered from her little operation, she would be able to chase rabbits again and have the full run of the wide open spaces out where we live.  I could have told her that she was ours now and that we would always see to it that she was well taken care of. 

   Unfortunately I didn’t speak her language…but guess what?  God did.  He spoke our language.  You see, we human beings can be a lot like Dixie.  Though God always has our best interests at heart, we don’t always believe that or understand that.  Or we may think we know better.  So we sometimes run from Him.  We choose to cut our own path through life rather than letting Him lead the way.  And we sometimes get ourselves into some pretty big messes or some pretty dangerous situations.  But God doesn’t give up on us.  Rather, He pursues us.  In fact, He made the ultimate sacrifice when He left the glory and perfection of heaven behind and became one of us in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.  And through Christ, He speaks to us… tenderly…gently…lovingly…in a language we can understand.  “I am the Good Shepherd,” He says, “who lays down His life for His wayward sheep.”  “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He proclaims to those of us who have lost our way or forgotten His truth.  “I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” He declares to us when we’re feeling lost and lonely.  In the waters of Holy Baptism He speaks to us as He adopts us into His family.  He sets His seal of ownership upon us and crowns us with His everlasting love that continues to love us and pursue us even when we don’t love or follow Him.  In His Holy Supper He speaks to us as He gives us the gift of Himself under the forms of bread and wine and imparts to us in a very real and personal way His love, forgiveness, and salvation.

   That’s what I love so much about God.  He comes to us.  He pursues us.  He comes down to our level.  He speaks our language.  He writes His very own personal love letter to us in the words of Scripture that we can hear and read any time we want.   And someday – some grand and glorious day – He is going to come calling for us, just like I did with Dixie.  And if we’ve been listening to Him, if we know and believe and trust in Jesus as our heaven-sent Savior from sin, He’s going to give us more than a belly rub!  I can guarantee you that.  For the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Keep listening! Keep believing!  Keep trusting!