Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Speaking Dog

The brake lights on the cars in front of me blinked in a chorus of red. I found myself stuck in a mysterious traffic jam on my way to a lunch meeting. There didn’t seem to be an immediate cause but cars up ahead were swerving in seemingly random directions to avoid something as they made it to the front of the line.

When it was my turn, I discovered a small but mighty junkyard dog wandering aimlessly and unconcerned down the street. He looked like he was taking a stroll in the park and was oblivious to the danger that surrounded him. Fortunately, Coloradans love their dogs as much as they love their mountains so he was probably safe wandering down North Broadway Avenue. I dodged the dog and made it to my meeting.

An hour later, I had forgotten the meandering canine and found myself southbound on the same street. Once again, traffic jammed and there was the dog headed in the opposite direction. Apparently, he was also returning from a lunch appointment. But this time, a woman had parked her car and was following him through the traffic trying to draw him to safety. Hot engines and rubber tires did not scare him but his would be rescuer visibly terrified him. The dog became even more erratic in his chosen path and was putting himself in greater danger.

The woman stopped and looked visibly upset. She realized she wasn’t helping. I couldn’t help but think that if only she could have spoken dog, if only she could have become something less threatening to that human-scared dog she might have been able to help.

The next morning at Bud’s Warehouse, I found myself sharing the story of the wayward dog as we looked at one of my favorite chapters, Philippians 2, in our morning bible study. Paul talks about how Jesus, who shared the very nature of God, decided to temporarily forgo his rightful powers. He “made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil 2: 7-8, NIV)

Perhaps, we are all like that junkyard dog. The creator of the universe had to lovingly become one of us in order to overcome our natural fear when faced with the awesomeness of God.

And then—this takes my breath away—Jesus shared in the most frightening of all human experiences: the painfulness and aloneness of dying. He humbly faced this in order to conquer death.

Three days later he turned a ragged bunch of scared Jewish followers into fearless representatives of him because they had witnessed his death and return to life. Nothing could be the same for them because Jesus was no longer dead. Indeed, early Christian historians reported that many of the disciples followed Jesus to similar deaths because they had witnessed something truly extraordinary. No one would have chosen such a path that ends in early death unless Jesus’ resurrection was true. They, like all of us, needed God to speak our language…to become one of us and give us a living-example of God’s love for humanity.

That is what we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

We all just needed someone to speak dog to us.

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