Several weeks ago, my wife Regina and I went to the United Airlines baggage claim desk at Aspen Airport. After completing paperwork, the agent brought out a large plastic crate. Inside was 22 pounds of a bouncing Bouvier puppy.
Osa, which means female bear in Spanish, has joined our family. As we have had dogs before, we know what to expect, both with a puppy and specifically with a Bouvier. Bouviers have a massive amount of energy and love to jump, prance and chase. To describe the breed a playful is an understatement.
As is the case with all puppies, desired behaviors must be overtly taught and nothing can be assumed. Currently we are working on basic commands such as sit, stay, and heal. What is interesting about puppies is that these words, by themselves, and the associated hand signals, are utterly meaningless. That is, until such commands are explicitly associated with physical movements.
Hence, to teach a dog to sit in response to a sit hand signal, it is important to push down on a dog’s hindquarters while at the same time gently lifting up on the collar. Dogs learn very quickly when expectations are plainly and clearly taught.
For years I’ve known that dogs have a lot to teach human beings about communication. Dogs respond well when communication is clear and concise. Too often in our relationships with others, including spouses, children, coworkers, friends, and neighbors we are neither clear nor concise.
Training Osa serves as yet another tangible reminder that the health of any relationship is wholly dependent upon transparent communication.
The same can be said for our relationship with God. More than anything, God wants a relationship with you and with me. The depth of our relationship with God directly reflects how much and how often we spend time with God in prayer or for that matter, any kind or form of dialogue.
While creating space to listen to God is important, I encourage each of us to be overtly intentional about engaging God throughout each day by sharing thoughts, feelings, asking questions, and heartaches as well as joys as they occur. The more we do so, the more we will experience the guiding, loving, and forgiving presence of God. Although God may not tell us to heal or sit, the more time we spend with Him, the more we will sense when He is trying to get our attention.