She doesn’t know the rules. She’s only been around for a week, so she’s still learning. The system is not hard, but it’s all new to her. She makes mistakes. Lot’s of mistakes.
Gayle and John, my sister and brother-in-law, just adopted a rescued dog from People’s Animal Welfare Society. A little dachshund mix they named Sadie, she’s from a hoarder’s home where many dogs were kept and care was minimal. At three she’s never been housebroken, but she’s smart and really wants to please.
Until she can’t. Or won’t.
I’ve been chuckling over the timing of their adoption. John just got shoulder surgery, which makes moving his left arm difficult at best. It’s the middle of winter, with cold temperatures, colder wind and more snow expected.
Sadie doesn’t always want to go outside, even when she needs to. Watching that little gal drag all four paws redefines stubbornness. She manages to make her displeasure known.
When we got up this morning, little presents were discovered on the living room rug. At some time before she was crated for the night, she managed to deposit her gift–in between outside forays.
My sister wasn’t happy.
Sadie was smart enough to figure she’d done something wrong. She went down to the family room and lay down on her blanket.Wouldn’t lift her head. Wouldn’t look anyone in the eye unless they got down on her level.
Her blanket of shame.
She stayed there. Her typical bounce went flat. Her ears drooped. Her tail, as she walked to her sad place, was between her legs.
She didn’t know the rules. As clever a dog as she is, she couldn’t know what hadn’t been fully taught her. When Gayle left for her job the day after I got there, Sadie jumped to the top of the couch in the living room–a forbidden place for the little dog. John spoke authoritatively to her, and she jumped down. When she ran out the door to follow Gayle to get the paper, a strong word from my sister had her halting in her tracks.
At least she’s learning who to obey.
Those who know Jesus personally have been adopted into God’s family. Many feel obligated to follow an extensive list of rules. There are those who believe that God’s love for them will be given based on their success in following that list. As if we’re in constant test-taking mode.
None of us has any capacity or ability to follow all the rules.
It’s why we’re saved by His grace–not our works. Our efforts will never be good enough.
Will I experience consequences when I make bad choices or “break the rules”?
But Jesus, in His gentleness, teaches me through these opportunities. And loves me without hesitation.
Gayle and John love their little dog. They’re not going to get rid of her because she makes mistakes. They’ll be frustrated, but they’ll teach her to be a better dog.
No shame necessary.
Jesus never deals in shame. His love is constant.
Even when we break the rules.