I love dogs. Recently, while I was far from home on a trip to South Korea, our beloved dog, Tia, was impounded. Apparently, a workman left the front door of our home open and Tia left behind the warmth of our house in an attempt to brave the streets of a subzero Colorado winter. For whatever reason, she didn’t find her way home that night.
Tia had a tag on, but it was next to useless because the phone number was no longer connected to our house. She was a much-loved dog with a home but with no voice or identity markers to help her find it.
My sons had wisely chosen to hide Tia’s misadventure from me, but no doubt there was panic on the home front. They looked and looked but couldn’t find the dog anywhere. As a last resort, they followed someone’s suggestion and called the dog pound.
When Austin arrived at the shelter and saw Tia, he wasn’t sure she was our dog. The ordeal had so completely changed her demeanor that she appeared depressed rather than excited to see him. She remained in the corner of the cage, shaking and cowering. After Austin paid the equivalent of a night in a fine hotel, she was ours to bring home once again.
Tia had been our dog for more than a decade, and this was the first time she had ever wandered away and not returned on her own. I was concerned . . . why now?
Ultimately, the reason she left did not matter. She belonged to our family, and her inability to find her own way home did not negate this fact. The search was made, the fine was paid, and she was pulled out of her cage of shame and returned to her place on our bed at my feet. One errant night was not cause enough for us to disown her.
You probably know where I’m going with this. If we (imperfect pet owners that we so obviously are) would do this much for a dog, what would our heavenly Father do for us? Your first step in knowing your identity is found in who you are to Him. First John 3:1 gives us a window into how God sees us.
“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.” (MSG)
Let’s talk about just how marvelous God’s love is. It is awe inspiring, spectacular, and over-the-top. It is the very opposite of mundane or ordinary. Its depth is enough to cause us to marvel. And this marvelous love is an extension, kind of like a gift with a purchase but better, because this is a gift with a gift. We are gifted salvation. God saw us in our wretched, caged state, cowering in the corner of some religious humane society, and paid the price to save us.
But He didn’t stop there. He drew us close and identified us as His own. (All before we’d even had a bath!) You really are His. And He loves all of His children marvelously
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