Crash! My eyes shot open. I laid in the darkness straining to listen in a moment of pregnant silence…then, a tentative Squish…a hesitant Nibble. And then, with eager abandon: Chew! Crack! Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
Our dog, Gabby, was on another midnight bender in the trashcan.
The familiar crunch sounds from downstairs startled me awake. What if she eats something and chokes in the middle of the night? “Gabby! Come Here!!” I yelled, startling my poor husband awake. After a short pause, I heard her footsteps padding along the stairs leading back up to the bedroom. Jeff rolled out of bed and closed the bedroom door behind her.
After we were all back in bed, I heard her licking her lips to fish something out stuck in her teeth. It was too dark to see but, I felt around her little mouth to make sure nothing hard was stuck in there that could come loose and choke her. Nothing. If there was something in there, it would have to wait till morning. I was a tired mama and I wanted to go back to sleep.
Gabby is a good dog and not generally destructive. But, the kitchen trashcan lures her irresistibly. She figured out how to push the “open” button with her nose and rummage through scraps of bacon-fat-drenched paper towels, bones from last night’s steak, and the ends of brussel sprouts (she loves brussel sprouts). Oh, the glories of a trash can from a we-cook-everything-from-scratch kitchen! We started weighing down the lid with heavy objects so, instead, she started knocking over the recycle bin to lick lids, trays, and cans. We finally made the decision to lock her in our bedroom with us at night to protect her from her trash can obsession. But, on this night, the door did not shut completely leaving just enough opportunity for her to escape and get into trouble.
The next morning, I awoke to what sounded like a dog trying to get peanut butter off the roof of her mouth. Apparently her fishing efforts came up short the night before and something was still lodged between her teeth. But, she would not let me near her mouth to help her. Finally, while I sat in bed reading, Gabby came over and put her face in my lap and turned her head to the side so I could easily access her mouth. I pulled back her lips and there, looped around a couple teeth, was a long, stubborn piece of napkin. With a gentle pull, Gabby was free. She thanked me with an enthusiastic nuzzle and laid in my lap a while longer.
All of a sudden, I burst into tears. How often do I do this with God? How often do I make a compulsive mess in His house, against His rules—rules which he set in place to protect me from choking on chicken bones. Because of my disobedience, I get stuck and cannot free myself no matter how hard I try. The only way to get free is to show my shame to my Master and allow him to free me.
Hebrews 10:21-22 says,
“And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
My garbage on the floor does not magically go away. Without opposable thumbs, I cannot pick my mess no matter how hard I try. But, my loving Savior does what I cannot: He covers my mess and frees me from its snares.
Because of my loving relationship with Gabby, she trusted me enough to vulnerably ask for help from the very person she wronged. I train and discipline Gabby to teach her to avoid the trash can. But, I understand the temptation is great. Will she get in the trash again? Probably. But, I will be there again to clean and floss her teeth of all the garbage that traps her.