My brother, Jack and his wife are exceptional dog trainers. They have numerous dogs at home from Papillons to German Shepherds. They appear regularly at the dog agility events and shows such as the Calgary Stampede and I love going to watch them perform. My brother can get his dogs to do all manner of tricks by using hand signals and short commands. As Jack would be the first to tell you, some dogs respond better than others, which is why he spends an inordinate amount of time with those animals who are more stubborn to learn or obey his commands. When the dog wants to be disobedient and run in different directions, patience and perseverance is required on his part to draw back their attention, but he loves every dog he trains, even though at times he calls them with affection, “Stupid.” When my brother goes about training his dogs, he speaks with authority and he expects they will obey when he speaks. It doesn’t happen immediately. When training puppies, or new rescue dogs he must develop a relationship with them first that is built on trust. Every animal has a different personality and responds to commands in different ways. The hours and hours he puts into knowing those individual traits gives him insights into their character so he best knows how the dog will behave in any kind of situation. Eventually the dog is so well-trained that it can block out distractions, focus entirely on what Jack wants it to do and then anticipates and reacts to the next word of command before Jack even says it!
When I see my brother and his dog perform, they both look like they are having so much fun! I am so amazed by the way he can with just one word get the animal to weave through poles, run in one direction and then another, catch frisbees and then come back to sit by Jack’s feet to wait expectantly for another command from him. The communication between the two of them is phenomenal. The dog only has eyes for his master. The praise Jack showers upon the dog, even if the dog has not responded perfectly, shows the great love and respect he has for his beloved pet. The dog only wants to please his master because of his great love for him. They are a team.
I couldn’t help but think about that as an appropriate analogy this morning while I was doing my devotions. I read how Jesus needed only to speak a Word and it was so. God followed a pattern when He created the world: He spoke; it was so; it was good. (Genesis 1:3-4) Whenever God revealed His plans, things happened just as He said, and God considered the result “good”. (Philippians 2:13). “God doesn’t make suggestions. He speaks with the full determination to see that what He has said will come to fruition.” (Experiencing God Day-by-Day)
Jesus never wasted a word. Every one He spoke had power. With a word, He created, healed or commanded. He spoke with authority and expected His listeners to heed His Word.
I know there are times I am not as attentive as I should be to his Voice and I don’t heed His Word as well as I should. I don’t usually sit in expectation waiting to hear the next command from my Master. Instead, I am disobedient and run in different directions, contrary to God’s will. Like one of my brother’s more playful pets, I chase all the butterfly distractions in my life rather than be fully focused on my Master. I know the great love He has for me because even in my contrariness He corrects me, never gives up on me, and continually encourages me with His Word.
And so the training continues!