Come When You’re Called

In Chester’s previous life, he was a wanderer, or more accurately, an escape artiste.  I use the French spelling because for him, it was all about l’amour…or l’lust.  He likes the ladies.

So much so that any perceived opportunity to liberate himself from the confines of the yard set in motion a series of rapidly firing synapses.  Although I don’t think the urge to skedaddle originated in his brain.

Under the fence, a partially closed door or, best of all, an open gate.  He could bolt faster and be more determined than a Black Friday shopper at Walmart. Nothing could stand between him and possible hanky panky.

No amount of calling or baiting him with treats proved successful.  His favorite destination was around the corner and down the cul de sac where resides fair mademoiselle.  Apparently she has that certain something.  That je ne sais quoi.  The Shih Tsu Siren.

Chester on the loose.  Showtime.  Guess who’s back again?  He rounds the corner toward her house everything goes slow mo.  Puffs chest.  Begins man strut.  With every step his neck chains slowly swing from side to side.  You can feel 24k Magic in the air.  Head to toe so player.

If said damsel’s garage door is shut then he will wander the cul de sac cruising for mas flickas.  If you can’t be with the one you love…  This has happened so often I can’t count the times strangers have come to our door saying, “Do you have a little white dog?”.  We’re planning a block party for all the neighbors who have snitched on him.

That was then.  Since we decided to relieve him of a couple of relevant body parts our lives have changed.  He is no longer the Lothario of Longmont, yet still embarrasses us occasionally with inappropriate social behavior.

Now our problem is:

He still doesn’t want to come when he’s called, not because of irresistible pheromones, but because he doesn’t want to be told what to do.

Chester may sound like a pain in the patootie, and he is.  But you know, I love him anyway.  A lot.

I heard an interesting lesson recently about the lineage of Jesus.  The genealogical hall of fame, where everyone knows your name.  People like Abraham, David, and Noah.  Although thousands of years later parents are naming their kids after these guys…they had issues.

Adam, ground breaking sinner.  Thought God was holding out on him.  Tree of Life’s just throwing shade on his liberty.  Dug a hole that 113 billion people since have not been able to climb out of.

Noah:  Flush with faith.  Won with a full house. Then after the big game grew himself a vineyard and went down to the felt.  Getting sloshed and humiliating yourself is not something you want to be remembered for.

Abraham:  put his wife’s life and honor in danger twice by telling a half truth to his foreign hosts. This beautiful woman, well, don’t hurt me to get to her.  She’s my sister.  Today we would call that spousal abuse.

David:  Where do I start?  Adultery?  Murder? Abusing his power?  How about this one?  Too violent.  God said ixnay on temple construction for you, bud.  Too many bodies in your wake.   Let’s just say it takes a special kind of person to collect 200 foreskins.  Especially since he only needed 100 to buy his wife.  But, hey, he was on a roll.  One hundred and seventy eight, one hundred and seventy nine…

Solomon:  The man who had everything.  Money.

Wisdom.  Invented the maternity test.

He was a writer, botanist, master architect, spiritual leader, artist, diplomat, military leader, and the richest man who ever lived.  He was the Renaissance Man before there ever was one.

Yet he had a downfall.  Wives.  If one was good, two was better.

If two are better, then how about 700 and 300 more on the side?  Man had to be tired.  Listening to one woman can be difficult.

Even though God made it clear the Israelites shouldn’t marry outside the faith, he insisted on loving lots of women and, somehow, managed to listen them.  Which is what got him in trouble.  In his old age they turned his heart away from God.

Judah:  don’t get me started.  Sold his brother into slavery.  Broke countless laws.  Failure as a father.  Two of his sons were so evil God struck them dead.  Lied repeatedly.  BFFs with the Canaanites.  Refused to provide for his family.

His son’s widow, Tamar, was so desperate to get his attention she went to the dark side.  Posing as a prostitute she stalked him and made herself available.  Didn’t take much convincing.  Their encounter resulted in twin boys.  So much wrong here.

What do all these people have in common?  Sinners.  Who knew better.  Yet they shared one significant characteristic: when they heard God call, they answered.

In spite of being ridiculed for years, Noah listened to God and built the ark.  Abraham trusted God, and, with only one child, became the father of billions of people, including Jesus.  When David was confronted with his heinous crimes, he broke.  He used his both his brokenness and his joy to bless us with the Psalms.  His heart was open like God’s.  Jesus refers to himself many times as “the son of David.”  Son of a brutal, conniving, seducing, murderer.  Put some miles on that thought.

Judah, wow.  After all he had done, when faced with his lies and immorality with Tamar, acknowledged his sin and repented.  And one of his illegitimate, semi-incestuous twin sons carried the genealogical line to Jesus.

What’s the moral of this story?  That it doesn’t matter how much we’ve messed up.  We can be colossal failures.  We can be stubborn repeat offenders.  We can be full of ourselves, murder, cheat, lie, flash the neighbors in a drunken stupor, and still be in The Family.

Chester isn’t the only stinker around.  We all have our sirens.

Yet, when God intervenes and gets your attention, listen.  Open your heart.  Be accessible.  It’s our chance at redemption.

Listen, I hear something.  God is calling and he’s got a treat.  We’d better come.

Respect to Jim and Cindy and all who are trying to listen to God.

I Don’t Mind

Let me introduce you to Chester, my Maltese mutt.  Conceived for profit in a puppy mill.  Peddled from the trunk of a car at Walmart.  Eventually,  spotted by me on craigslist.

Used dog for sale.  Big brown eyes.  12 pounds of feel good.  His silky, caramel hair begs to be stroked.  A zen experience only explained only by poetry.  He makes the happy center of my brain light up like a Christmas tree.

It was the end of a very long day and I was done.  Nicely browned and fork tender.  Plopped down in the recliner and turned on a much anticipated recording of The Voice.

Chester came in through his doggie door, bringing in all kinds of mud.  There were clumps on the floor and tracks on the carpet.  Curious, I picked up the closest nugget and it felt very soft.  Wanting to verify the composition, up it went for a sniff.

Due to the asymmetrical nature of the little chunk, in my haste I accidentally grazed my nose.  It wasn’t mud.  My eyes widened and pulse accelerated as I realized there’s dog poo on my face.  I couldn’t wash it off fast enough.  (You know how you keep smelling something after its gone?)

I picked up Chester and to my horror, he’s got a a rear end smeared with it.  Not just a little bit either.  Let me tell you the emission report was bad. Cleaning multiple applications of excreta was not in my script for the night.

Sigh. I put Chester in the sink and went to work.  Its coated, caked, and clotted.  Not a quick rinse job.  Like a good chef, I had to get my hands in the meatloaf.  The last foul cluster proved to be tenacious, probably from a previous exodus. Neither water nor shampoo made it budge.

In a light bulb moment, my eyes darted to the dish drainer where, yes, there was a pair of scissors.  In a split second I decided to go for it.  Thank God he didn’t jerk or there would be a different, more macabre story to tell.

Then I addressed the carpet and eventually sat down to watch my recording.  Chester jumped in my lap and offered me his neck to scratch, then his back, and then his tummy.

As we lifted into transcendental bliss I realized we’re a lot alike.  Lots of poo on me, too, spiritually speaking.  Cleaning myself is impossible.  Chester’s usual licking routine of tidying up those awkward places was completely ineffectual. There are many places I can’t reach as well.

What about all those embarrassing, hurtful, and stupid things I’ve done?  God brings in the hazmat.  Even now he reaches into my mind and finds the whack-ness, giving me a check up from the neck up.

Some days I feel like I’m covered with poo, but it’s not true.  I’m a member of the clean slate club.  Stupid fresh every day.

Chester and I don’t have a tit for tat relationship, that maintains a balance of giving and receiving.  Although the gross factor nearly broke the gauge, I didn’t mind.  I love him.  His worth to me is not reduced by the sacrifice of my evening, in fact, it verifies it.

God knows I’m weak, and given the opportunity and motive, am capable of unthinkable behaviors.  Still he got his hands in my meatloaf.  Forgiving me was more than inconvenience, more than a delayed Voice replay.

It cost him his life and it wasn’t pretty.

I don’t want to see Chester filthy and uncomfortable, helpless to clean himself up.  For as many times as he needs, I’ll do it again and again. And God is happy to clean me up.  No wagging finger, no sassy neck-roll.   He does it for me daily with a smile on his face:  Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

I got my Big Bath 40 years ago.  Jesus did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.  He continually scrubs those hard to reach places.  Does he mind?  Not at all.  I’m in that sink on a regular basis.  Then we cuddle up in the recliner and it’s all good.



Acapella cover of “I Don’t Mind” by a band called Joseph, courtesy of  Morgan Minsk, Gracie Aho, Will Pike, and Anselm Beach.

Shout Outs:

Marcia Lamb for posting the video that started it all.

Manyesha Batist for her encouragement.

These talented singers.

Garrett Campagna for his technogenerousity.

Jesus for not minding.


carpe those diems