Monday, February 17, 2014

A jump in the river

It was a crisp fall day when Pippy went insane.
Yes, my loving, sweet, gentle and meek Schnoodle went insane. The craziness was sparked by geese in the park. It all started when Pippy, Mom and I were walking through the park in Chagrin Falls, strolling down the path next to the river. All of a sudden Pippy spotted a flock of geese in the middle of the river.
Before I go any further let me preface the story that follows with these facts: One, Pippy has never jumped in a body of water - ever. Two, she does not particularly enjoy taking baths. Thirdly, she never chases wild animals. And fourthly, she practices the safety tactic known to kindergartners as "stranger danger" any time she comes across an unfamiliar dog.
Now with some background information out of the way let me continue on with the story.
Pippy spotted the geese and took off running towards the river. And then into the river. With a  flying leap she went sailing into the Chagrin River. My heart practically fell out of my chest. I started running toward the river too, mentally preparing to go into dog rescue mode.
It didn't take but a moment to realize that Pippy's dog instincts were solid. She started paddling with all the force her little legs could manage. Her face looked terrified. If she could have spoken I do believe the famous words of Ron Burgundy would have summed up her feelings in that moment: "I immediately regret this decision."
She paddled back to the shore as quickly as she could and climbed out of the dirty water. My once clean, dry, odorless pup, in the blink of an eye, transformed into a dripping wet, smelly, completely crazed animal. She took off running around the park, rolling on the ground and shaking her whole body as if she were doing some kind of dancing jig. She ran with her face in the grass - nature's washcloth. She used the air as her personal blow-dryer.
The scene was too comical for Mom or I to be mad. Sure, Pippy now smelled like a toxic wasteland and looked like a wet mop, but she was having a blast. The smile she displayed as she tore around the park was one of overwhelming joy and pure glee.
Little did she know that a bath was in her not-too-distant future!
But for those moments in the park she was thinking of nothing but running free and rolling in the soft, warm grass. She hadn't managed to retrieve any geese - what she would have done with one even if she reached it in the water, I'm not sure. But she was having a blast and her excitement was contagious.
After her romp around the park it was straight home for a bath. The water in that tub ran brown for what felt like hours but Pippy was a trooper through it all. She waited patiently as I shampooed, rinsed and repeated over and over. Maybe she was too worn out from all the running in the park to put up any kind of fuss. Or maybe she knew that when it was all over she would be smelling like a rose, looking silky and smooth, just begging to be pet.
After her long bath and hair blowing session (done with an electric blow drier this time) Pippy was looking like herself again. Actually, better than herself. When we had left for the park that morning her coat hadn't been this shiny and she hadn't smelled so fragrant! Her jump in the river prompted an intense bathing session that otherwise would have been left for another day. The result was a dog-show ready Pippy!

Today, months after the craziness of Pippy's antics, I can't help but smile when I replay that scene in my mind's eye. Pippy's momentary insanity reminds me a lot of myself. How many times have I had displayed foolish behavior, taking off in directions that appears crazy and nonsensical? I've made mistakes and missteps that have left me saying, "I immediately regret this decision."
And yet God always cleans me up, washes me and leaves me more glorious than I was before. Through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the shedding of His blood on the cross I am cleansed from every moment of insanity, every sin, every foolish endeavor and every terrible mistake. He wipes my slate clean and gives me a fresh start. He shampoos, rinses and repeats. He even conditions, blow-dries and brushes!
No matter how many rivers I jump in or how badly my sins stink, God forgives me. He takes me back into His arms and restores me, making me cleaner than before.

If Pippy has another lapse of judgement resulting in another quick dip in a river or some other dirty body of water, I will still love her when she comes climbing out, all covered in dirt and dripping in foul smelling water. I'll let her get all the craziness out of her system by running around a park, releasing the insanity from within.
And then I will take her home and give her a long bath. I'll use the best shampoo and the sweetest smelling conditioner. I'll brush her and spray her with doggie-perfumes. I'll make her coat shine brighter than it had when she woke up that morning. She'll be fresh and clean. More beautiful than before!
And God will keep cleansing me, too. When I make a mistake He will always be faithful to forgive me and make me new.
I am imperfect and I am prone to sin. But God is the everlasting redeemer who doesn't grow weary of forgiving me. When dirty and messy sinners like you and I come to God in repentance, asking for His glorious washing and renewal He is always ready to give us the bath we so desperately need. In His love, God makes us new, cleansing us from every moment of insanity and every jump in the rivers of life.

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