Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. - Psalm 144:1-2
We all know that God is good, but we often fail to realize that God is goodness itself. The word "goodness" carries with it the idea of mercy, integrity, uprightness, of good moral standing. Where God is concerned, goodness is the characteristic that allows Him to show mercy and patience when we don't deserve it, to pour His love out on us even though He knows we'll take it for granted, to give to us knowing that we'll only ask for more. In short, God treats us far better than we deserve. And any good qualities we find within ourselves are all from Him. In and of ourselves, we are anything but good.
In all my years of being a dog lover/owner, I have never been tested in the area of goodness like I have recently with Barnabas. Our newest addition is a sweet, loveable little critter, but he definitely has some issues. I've already told you about his anxiety, but he also has a stubborn streak like I've never seen. As if that weren't enough, he has the doggie equivalent of ADHD syndrome. All in all, he's a handful.
But here's what I'm really having a difficult time with. The poor dog seems to have more mood swings than I do. One minute, he's calm and peaceful; the next, he's running through the house like a wild animal. One day, he seems to have learned the lessons from our training sessions; the next day, it's like we're back to square one. One day, I see marked improvement; the next, I'm ready to give up! I don't think I've ever felt so much at my wit's end with a dog.
I will admit there were a few times in those first couple of weeks when I thought of returning him. I had already fallen in love with him, but he was proving to be more work than I had anticipated. So, why did we keep him? For one, as I stated, I love the crazy mutt, and love doesn't give up on someone when things get difficult. Secondly, I see myself in Barnabas. Unfortunately, I'm familiar with the anxiety, the mood swings, the difficulty focusing on one thing instead of being distracted by everything around me. I understand what it's like to think I've finally learned a lesson only to discover that I made the same mistake again. In my insecure pooch, I recognize my own lack of trust in my Master which causes me to act out in ways I'm not sure I'll ever understand.
You know how every parent prays their child will have a child just like them so they can experience the "joy" of raising such a young one. Well, I'm not sure if my parents ever prayed that about me, but it seems that's exactly what happened. My "child" is just like me, and I don't have a clue how to help him. But I'm learning. In fact, I'm learning by example. My Master is guiding me by using my own life as a visual aid. And today's lesson has helped me to realize how good God is. Comparing myself to Barnabas, I can see how much goodness God has bestowed on my life. He has been so kind, loving and patient. He's displayed mercy beyond belief. And no matter how troublesome I've been, He's never left me, forsaken me or given up on me. His goodness endureth forever!
And now it's time for that goodness to flow through me to help another dear one who needs to be reminded that his master loves him, cares for him and will continue to work with him as long as it takes. After all, that's what goodness does.