A Doggy Kind of Love
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
I’m not my dog’s Number One person—that role belongs to my husband, Matt, who I’m quite certain Captain believes hangs the moon in the sky. Still, it staggers me to experience the enthusiastic, passionate, and lavish love Captain holds for me.
We adopted our German Shepherd when he was about six weeks old in the summer of 2021, and it immediately began a time of intense learning for me. I’d never had a puppy before, and I often joke that if I knew going in how much work was required, I would have nixed the whole idea. Thank goodness my husband has had dogs his whole life and knew what he was doing. A lifelong cat mom accustomed to the independent I’ll-cuddle-with-you-when-I-feel-like-it feline way, I had no clue how much effort and interaction I was in for, from potty training to leash walking to not treating my favorite winter jacket like a chew toy.
But, oh, what joy it has been as well! No wonder everyone loves dogs so much—for now I can say I’ve become a true dog-lover, too.
What strikes me most is the fervent joy Captain has merely over being in our presence. If I walk in the door after work or even a ten-minute errand, he literally leaps in happiness, spinning around and around as if he’s saying, “You’re back! This is the best thing ever!”
If I’m working on my laptop on the couch while he’s sound asleep next to me, and I get up to go work at my desk for a while, he stirs himself awake, trots along at my heels, then settles himself right back down again at my feet. “Where you go, I follow, Mama,” he’s saying. I swear he did somersaults for me one afternoon when I picked him up at doggy daycare after a business trip.
My cats adore me, but it’s on far a different level—they show it best by blinking their eyes at me contentedly, or coming up for a quick head-nuzzle. It’s like they’re saying, “Heyyy…thanks for coming back,” a laid-back two on a scale of one to ten in excitement. But Captain? He’s a ten on the excitement scale. Maybe a twelve.
It reminds me a lot of the unexpected enthusiasm and love shown to the prodigal son in Luke 15. Also called the parable of the lost son, the story relates how this son took his inheritance early and then squandered it on wild living. Destitute, he eventually returned home in shame, hoping only to be his father’s hired servant. But to his astonishment, his father was overjoyed at his return and welcomed him home with open arms, celebration, and much honor. As Scripture tells us, “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for hm; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20 NIV).
I can imagine this father, quite literally running toward his son, tears of joy streaming down his cheeks and laughter bubbling within his chest. “You’re home! My precious boy—I thought you were dead and gone forever!” I imagine him shouting. If he were Captain, he’d also be doing backflips and somersaults in glee, a dance of pure, unadulterated doggy love filled with fervor and zeal.
That’s how God loves us, in truth: so much that God chases us down, calls us back from the depths of the wilderness, forgives our sins and welcomes us home. So much that God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, pay our sin-debt, and create a place for us in eternity with him forever. He loves us with the perfect, pure affection of a German Shepherd greeting his favorite people after a long time away.
I wonder: Do we love God back with that same fervor and zeal? Does that extraordinary love and gratitude fill our hearts and overflow in our actions, or do we tuck it down, keeping our emotions steady and our faith zipped in tight?
Today, I urge you to stop keeping your own feelings and love for the Lord buttoned up and socially “appropriate.” Instead, risk looking like a proverbial Jesus freak and let your passions ignite and explode when you worship, pray, and serve the Lord in your daily life. He loves us even better than a dog loves his master, and in honor of that, let’s love him well in return.
Let’s Pray: Heavenly Lord, thank You for the incredible and exuberant love You have for us and for the relationship You invite us to experience with You. Help us be filled with joy and enthusiasm for this precious gift today and every day. In Jesus's Name I pray, Amen.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.
Jessica has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.