Smelly Grace

I heard this illustration from Don Marlyne (Berean Baptist Church Griffin, GA). I re-told it in my own words  for an article in The Spectacle.

It is Monday morning. Time to get ready for work. I do my usual routine; shower, hair, tooth-brushing, get dressed, put on perfume, grab a cup of coffee, check on the dog. This is where I pause.

I think, “Great. I wonder if that stupid creature is wound up on the tree again?” It is a nightly occurrence for my pet dog to play himself down to five inches of leash. The rest of the leash spider-webs between the apple tree and dog house.

Sure enough, outside I am greeted by a happy tail, sparkling eyes and a wet tongue all strapped to the side of the tree trunk. Barely able to wiggle, he barks and squirms as I survey the situation from the clean safety of my back porch. I sip. I smell the doggy aroma through the coffee and contemplate if I have enough time to change after I get his dirty, hairy self untied.

“You expect me to get you free again, don’t you?” I say to him. “I think you like being tied up, you do it so often!”

He doggy talks back, and since I’m his owner, I know what he says.

“I’m so sorry. Please, please untangle me.”

A paw lifts in repentance, promising a big hug and kiss for me when I help him out. Not what I wanted to complete my appearance this morning!

But I love him. I can’t bear to think of him trapped all day. My coffee cup cools on the porch rail as I release him, enjoy his messy kisses and push him off me as I un-knot his leash for another day. A hand wash and clothes change gets me back to a presentable state, and I rush to work vowing to remember to check the dog before the shower tomorrow.

The word grace means giving to the undeserved. And it’s always messy. Why? Because undeserving folks are a mess. Just like my dirty dog, I too behave in the same stupid patterns. I stretch the loving tolerance of those around me. I get those around me “dirty” with my angry outbursts and self-absorption. I get tied up in my own pleasure, oblivious to the knots I am creating for others to undo.

The word grace is love in action. Love is more than a feeling I get from someone who loves me back, it is giving to someone regardless of the cost. Everyone knows I love my dog, because I save him every morning despite the repetition and the mess.

Jesus Christ is the proof that God loves me. I am a tied-up, stupid, undeserving dog. Yet, He was willing to touch me and free me despite the mess.

No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful. Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God. ~ Romans 5:7-8, 2 Cor 5:21

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