James 1:2-8 New International Version (NIV) 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
If you are a parent the day will come when you will have to deal with the dog question. My parents did, in fact more than once. But when I left home and started my own family my trusted friend and canine had long since passed on. Now it was my turn to look into those little sad eyes and hear those magical words…please! In spite of all the logical and well thought out reasons against it, the greatest of which is, “who” will ultimately care for the creature, we usually weeny out and get the kid(s) a dog.
So I’m sure you are asking, how on earth does this relate to today’s passage? Well and I am reminded of my youngest, and of course, daddy’s little girl, who spearheaded a particularly aggressive campaign for her dog. We made the usual demands and set out the usual prerequisites, all of which to our surprise she completed. Backed into a corner of our own creation we gave in a brought home Emmitt, named after a certain football player. One of the prerequisites was that I got to name the dog.
I have to admit they were good together. Their relationship blossomed and these two were just made for each other. My daughter and Emmitt became the best of friends and were pretty much inseparable. Then one day the unthinkable happened. Emmitt got out of backyard during one of his potty breaks and my little girl’s world came crashing down. She was devastated. Parents you know the drill. We posted and searched and posted and searched some more, to no avail. As the days passed we began to try and move my daughter out of denial and into acceptance. She would have none of it. Every evening after school we searched and searched some more. One week, two weeks… We were becoming very concerned. The more we gently tried to push her forward the more she insisted Emmitt was out there and we would find him. Three weeks later as my wife and I discussed how our daughter might react to us bringing home another dog we heard a familiar yelp at the back door. Miraculously it was Emmitt! It was as if he had never been gone. In fact he looked as though he had been to the pet saloon. As my daughter leveled her eyes at her Mom and me and squealed with joy she said something I will never forget, “I told you. You just have to believe!”
Over the years Emmitt would repeat this periodic sabbatical and every time he would return. Sometimes as the days stretched to weeks my wife and I would begin to doubt, but not my daughter. She grew tougher and more resilient with each episode. As I read the passage today these memories came back to me and while it may seem like a story about a dog and a little girl it about more; it’s about trial, it’s about faith, it’s about believing.
Heavenly FATHER what peace we enjoy when we know that the key to all that worries us, all that threatens us, all that is important us, is believing. LORD, show us the way. In CHRIST name we pray. AMEN