In 1989, while appearing as a guest on “the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” legendary actor James “Jimmy” Stewart read a tear-jerker, heartfelt ode to his beloved dog, Beau. He entitled the poem, My Dog Beau. You can see the video of this touching composition on YouTube. I tear up nearly every time I hear it or see it.
However, my dog Bo doesn’t make me cry. He makes me smile. Every day that I get to see Bo, and he sees me, I feel like I must be one of the greatest people to ever live. Bo greets me like nobody’s business. He can’t get close enough to me. So, he rams his head into my chest or my legs, stomach, face, or wherever he can. Additionally, he howls. Man does he howl. He literally goes bananas when I get home from work. I once told my wife that for me to feel loved, “I don’t need much. Just greet me like Bo does every day when I get home.” My wife knew I was kidding, but how great would it be to be loved by someone so much that they went Bonkers every time they saw you? It would be great. It is great. And, not just with my dog Bo.
Around 2000 years ago, the God who spoke all matter, space, and time into existence, took on flesh and lived, breathed, laughed, walked, ate, drank, slept, wept, cried, and finally died because He loved us so much. I sometimes struggle to feel loved by God. In depending on what I can see, touch, smell, taste, and hear, I think I may often miss that still, small voice of God telling me He loves me. He tells us that all of Heaven rejoices when one person repents and turns to Him. (Luke 15:7) I am one of those people. He rejoices over me!
If I never felt anything from God, but simply trusted that He is Who He says He is and look at the extraordinary, inconceivable way that He came after me, that should be enough. But, I believe that God wants us to experience His love.
I have had those goose-bump moments over the years. I’ve had mountain-top seasons of life where God felt incredibly close to me. But, I’ve also had seasons of darkness. I’ve had times where it was difficult to sense Him at all. Over the last several years, part of it through dealing with the pain of depression, I have learned to look for God in what is going on around me. In dealing with major depressive disorder when I was a young man, there were periods of time, sometimes years, where I was in a very dark, sad, lonely place. One day during a time like this, a few guys from church came to hang out with me. I was no fun at all. These guys were definitely not coming to hang out because of what a joy I was to be around. They came because they loved me. After they left, I cried out to God, “Why don’t You love me like that?!?” In that moment, God spoke to my heart. “That was Me. I am loving you through them!” Gulp. I had so often been looking for the mystical, ethereal moments that I was missing what God was right in front of me.
The Bible teaches us that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in Heaven. (James 1:17). We also know that God is love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4:7
Real love is different from what is often portrayed as love. Real love comes from God. Real love is about the other person. Real love gives. When we receive love from anyone that is real, it has come from God. Even though an animal like my dog Bo, don’t necessarily “love,” God, who is love, can love me through any good gift He gives me. God loves me through a beautiful sunset, through the love of my wife, through my friends, and, He can love me through my dog Bo.
The Bible describes the church as the Body of Christ. Only bodies can physically manifest love toward another. We do this by giving of ourselves for the sake of the other person. Right now, the world could use some REAL LOVE. As the church, let’s ask God to show us who we can love today. The best-selling author, Bob Goff’s outstanding book, “Love Does,” nails it. For someone, you may be the answer to their prayers begging God to show them His love.
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.