Yesterday, I said that having a big dog does not make me feel safer. It makes my heart ache. The depth of love that I have for this dog and every little thing I know about her heart makes me hurt for all of the ways this broken world can wound her, and I feel unworthy of her love, which would, without hesitation, jump between me and danger, to her own peril. And then I confessed that this is not by any stretch of the imagination the same love that I have for Jesus.
Jesus...makes me feel safer.
Absolutely everything I said about my dog could be said of Jesus. Well, just about. He would willingly put Himself between me and danger - and He has. He would give up His life in a heartbeat for my good - and He has. He gets excited about all of the little things that He discovers in my world, and He has a memory like an elephant - He remembers every little thing and exactly where He saw it. He keeps looking for these glimmers of good things in my life, hoping they're still there. Hoping they're still growing. When I'm sick, He lays by my bed, holds my hand, waits for me to get better. He even heals me.
And yet, I don't love Him with the same love that I love my dog.
I don't ache with love for Him. I don't lie awake at night thinking about how this fallen world breaks His heart. I don't take notice, or maybe I just don't care, when His eyes look at me forlornly, wondering if we're still friends. Wondering if I'm going to have time soon to play with Him. I don't walk around with Jesus eyes the way I walk around with husky eyes - I don't try to see the things that He's going to see. I don't try to anticipate what He's going to notice. Most of the time, I turn my eyes away not because I can't bear to see, but because I just don't want to.
And for every good hing that He gives me, for all the amazing ways my life is better with Jesus in it, I still don't ache with love for Him. I don't even say thank you. Instead, I've concluded, "That's nice," and I simply feel better about my life because He's in it.
I sleep better at night knowing that Jesus is watching over me. I don't worry about things that go bump in the dark because if they were anything at all, Jesus would be on top of them. Maybe I leave my doors open a little more, trusting His bark if anything were ever to be amiss. Maybe I take a few more chances than I normally would, but only because my Big Dog makes me brave. Only because I know that He wouldn't really let anything happen to me.
Don't get me wrong - I don't think I have this backward. I don't think it's wrong to love my dog the way that I ought to love Jesus. But I do think I need to love Jesus better.
I need to look into His eyes and let their forsakenness pierce me the same way my dog's do when it's been too long since I've thrown her a frisbee. I need to see the depths of His heart every time I look at Him, know His heart so well that I know what in this world is going to break it. I need to develop Jesus eyes, see the world the way that He sees it. I need to remember that He remembers. When He stops and looks around in a certain direction, I have to remember what it was that He saw there, whether it was two days or two years or two decades ago, and I have to remember to remember it, too. I keep saying I "need" or I "have," but it's more than that - I want to.
I want to love Jesus the same way I love my dog. I want to ache with love for Him in a way that almost seems unnatural in this broken world but is exactly the way that love is meant to be. I don't want my life to just be safer because Jesus is in it; I want it to be better. I want it to be fuller. For in all the ache of love, there is also joy, and I want that joy that comes from being in real relationship with Him.
From not just having a Big Dog, but loving Him.