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June 22, 2011

When a Furry Friend Ignites Faith

Margaret Feinberg writes about discovering God in the ordinary and mundane

Adapted from "Hungry for God: Hearing God’s Voice in the Ordinary and the Everyday"

  • Ms. Feinberg with Hershey.

by Margaret Feinberg

While burning bushes and cursed fig trees are two of the images God uses to get followers’ attention in the Bible, often our own encounters with God are much more mundane. Instead of talking donkeys and tongues of fire, most of the time we find ourselves confronted with the routine of everyday life.

Yet does that mean God isn’t speaking or that we need to develop ears and eyes attuned to recognizing the ways God speaks?

Water is one of our most basic needs, yet God uses it to communicate profound truths about himself and his work in our lives. The Scriptures are saturated with meaningful references to water. In the beginning, the Spirit hovers over the water, and during creation, the waters are both separated and gathered. Noah and Moses both float on water as part of their rescue, and the Israelites pass through it when they cross the Red Sea. Prophets pray for rain or against it. Water is used in ritual cleansing, bathing, and baptism.

We are promised that water will be part of heaven, too. When I pour a glass of water and sip its refreshing coolness, all of these realities are waiting to be remembered. [1]

If God is willing to use something as basic as water to get our attention, what else might he use? A few years ago, my husband Leif (pronounced Lay-f) and I adopted a little puppy. As soon as the soft brown ball of fur crawled into the palms of my hands, I was in love. We named him Hershey.

After extensive training, Hershey was ready to go anywhere and everywhere. If dogs earned airline status, he’d be triple platinum. Though it sounds silly, sometimes God uses Hershey to teach me spiritual lessons. My furry friend is a living, breathing example of unconditional loyalty and love.

Because Hershey weighs less than five pounds, I carry him with me rather than use a leash. When Hershey stands still and trusts me, I scoop him up in a single motion. But sometimes he thinks I need his help. As I’m leaning down, he’ll try to jump up, creating a klutzy moment in which I have to scramble so he doesn’t fall. In the split-second I’m trying to grab hold of my dog, I’ve sensed the Holy Spirit whispering, You do this sometimes too.

Like Hershey, I don’t always trust my master. I think he needs my help. When I jump to take matters into my own hands, rather than trust God, I find everything falling apart. God is faithful and gracious enough to prevent me from thumping on the ground, but these moments remind me of the importance of relying and waiting on the Lord.

If God uses moments from the everyday to speak to us—whether it’s cool sip of water of on a summer’s day or a soft floppy puppy bounding in our arms—how many of these moments are we passing by each day without recognizing that God is whispering, God is speaking, God is drawing our hearts back to the divine? 

How is God speaking to you?

Adapted from Hungry for God: Hearing God’s Voice in the Ordinary and the Everyday by Margaret Feinberg. Follow Margaret on Twitter at @mafeinberg or become a Fan on Facebook.

[1]Genesis 1:1–2, Genesis 7, Exodus 2, James 5:17–18, Leviticus 15–16, Matthew 3:6–16, Revelation 22:1–2

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