By Sarah Manges
“These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time…when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” Psalm 104:27
My kids were delighted when our neighbor brought home a golden retriever puppy, and even more thrilled when she told them she would need their help during obedience training. I was a little concerned that my youngest boys would do more harm than good, but she assured me that she had done her research and had found a method by a well-known trainer that would transform her energetic puppy, perfectly named Joy, into an obedient companion who could remain calm in any situation.
Soon my children were running out of our house prepared for training wearing batting helmets, baseball caps, and carrying footballs and tennis rackets. This progressed to bicycles, roller blades, and even a pogo stick. I had to laugh when, on a stifling August morning, the closet was raided for winter hats and mittens; they zipped up their parkas, and grabbed sleds and snowboards before heading up the street. I couldn’t imagine how this training was working out, but at least my kids were enjoying themselves.
Several weeks later, my neighbor called to tell me Joy had progressed to the point in her training when she was ready for a field trip. A few minutes later, I looked out the window to see them walking around to our back yard which was filled, as usual, with kids from the neighborhood. I grabbed 2 glasses of iced tea and went out to see what was going on.
As I sat on the hill and chatted with my neighbor, kids rode past on scooters and bikes. In awe I watched Joy rest calmly amid the commotion, while my own little Yorkshire terrier ran around and yipped at her, trying to pick a fight. Every so often my neighbor would reach into her pocket, pull out a treat, hold it up to her face, and get Joy’s attention by saying, “Joy. Eyes.” Joy would turn her face to look up at my neighbor who would smile, give her a treat, and praise her for being such a good dog.
She explained that Joy’s success in training was based on the foundation of trust that Joy had learned to have in her master. Every piece of kibble she received was lovingly given to her the same way: Getting her attention so that she looked into the face of her master before receiving food. Her food was never placed in a bowl on the floor, but handed to her piece by piece, so that she would begin to recognize the face and voice that provided her with all her needs. Over time, Joy came to trust the presence and voice of her master, so that she was able to rest calmly at heel even when chaos was happening around her.
I have mentally replayed that scene so often since that day. You see, I have distractions on a daily basis that attempt to consume my emotions. I have clouds of anxiety that threaten to paralyze my every move. However, when I take the time to sit at the foot of my Master’s throne, it reminds me to pause and listen for His voice saying, “Sarah. Eyes.”
And I realize that every need I could ever possibly have is met in the face of my Master.