Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to teach our dog, Gabby, a new trick. Whenever I take her out for a walk, I offer her a tiny dog treat when we come back into the house. So each time, I’ve just been holding the treat up in the air above her head, then gently applying pressure on her rump until she sits, then I’ll say, “Gabby, Sit.” Time after time, she just never really got it. She’s gently resist having her rump pushed to the floor. She’d even move her head around behind her body, as if she were going to bite my hand. (She never tried, by the way. Good thing.) But I could tell, she was just a bit annoyed by all this pressure. Finally, I’d get her into the right position, and just pause everything and say — “Gabby, Stay.” And for that moment, she’d look up into my eyes, as if to say, “You know — I just don’t get this.” I’d say to my wife, “You know, she just doesn’t get it, does she.”

This morning, just a few minutes ago, we came in from her walk and I started to go through the whole routine again. I held up the treat and sighed, knowing I was going to have to go through all those weary steps again, and suddenly, right there in front of my eyes, I could see her little mind steaming. She dipped in front a bit… like she was going to bow in submission. It was as if she was saying, “Now was this the position he wanted me to take in order to get that tasty treat?” But then I could see that she was pondering, “Nope — that wasn’t it.”   And then, all of a sudden, she lowered her rump, all by herself, and just sat there, then looked away for a moment, then looked back into my eyes, as if to say, “Was this it?”

I nearly fell over. She got it. I gave her the treat and we repeated the whole thing twice more, and two more times, with no assistance at all, she did it. I rolled in the floor laughing. (I think my wife got a bigger kick out of my reaction than I did out of the dog’s.) I just couldn’t get it out of my mind, the way she started to bow in front, … trying to think through, “Now what was that pose again?”

You know, God isn’t a dog trainer, … and we aren’t dogs. But I began to think — there was a ton of joy, just with the respect that Gabby showed me this morning — and it was really all about a dog treat for her. But she still sowed that submission. And I just loved on her to the point that she was nearly beside herself with joy. Her tail was wagging a mile a minute. She KNEW she had done something right. (I just hope she remembers next time!)

I’m thinking… if we could just figure out what behavior God wants us to live out… What’s that pose again. We start to bow, then — we ponder — “What is it he wants us to do?” If we could just get it, I have a feeling He’d be so pleased. And the funny thing is, we’d not only get the treat (Heaven), but more importantly, by finding our purpose in submission, we’d find true joy and meaning for life as well.

What behavior is God hoping YOU will learn today? … this year? … for life?