Our little cocker spaniel, Molly is getting out of control. Several months ago her doctor informed us that she may be dying. “She’ll be craving water and food.” He solemnly informed us. “Give her what she wants and make her comfortable,” were his parting words. The doctor was being too kind. Molly doesn’t just crave food and water… she CRAVES food and water all through the night.
At first we were eager to do whatever Molly wanted because we felt sorry for her but after several months Molly’s condition improved. In fact, she’s healthy. There is only one problem. She still wants food and water all through the night. She’s gone crazy and in the meantime, she’s driving me nuts.
Molly goes through the same routine every night. First she gently pads over to our bed, sits down near my head and stares at me. (Why is it always me? Don’t answer that.) Those penetrating eyes send lightning bolts through my dream world. Startled, I would wake up and there sits Molly with a look of desperation as if she just completed a hot march across the desert. “Feed me… now!”
After awhile, I learned to sleep through the stare so she learned a new tactic: heavy breathing. Molly would rise up on her hind legs (I thought she was sick?) and place her snout directly in front of my face and begin to pant. When that stopped working, she began to whimper and then she would whine. Finally Molly began barking: soft at first but building in intensity until the walls themselves shook.
Whenever Molly wants something now; she barks. If we go to bed and leave her in my study; she barks until we let her sleep on the bed. When she wants to go outside; Molly barks. When she wants to be fed; she barks. Won’t somebody help me out of this mess? My dog is out of control!
· A friend suggested I whip her into shape. “A good spanking never hurt anyone,” he said.
· Another implied that I didn’t understand her. After all, Molly is sick and obviously traumatized.
· A neighbor wanted Molly to come to her house. After all, dad never treated her right anyway.
· A minister suggested I pray over her. A psychiatrist recommended Ritalin.
· A lawyer wanted me to sue the kennel where we purchased her.
· A local automobile dealer suggested buying a new car. (Not for her silly… for me!)
Whether you are teaching children or pets, everyone likes to give advice but whose do you actually follow? Which one is right? For a more reliable source I began looking through scripture.
“For the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes those he accepts as his children. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all. Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever?” (Hebrews 12:6-9)
Did you notice that discipline is used 6 times in one short paragraph? For God, discipline is an expression of love. In other words… taking the time to discipline your child or in my case, Molly, is a clear indication of how much you care. If you do not take the time to lovingly discipline your child, it is a sign of illegitimacy, which means they don’t even belong in your family: Strong words.
Therefore by taking the time to consistently teach Molly when it is okay and not okay to bark I am showing her how much I love her. Your willingness to establish guidelines and expectations for your children is a way of demonstrating love and establishing their value as legitimate members of your family. The courage to discipline is in reality a beautiful gift of love.
Proverbs gives this advice: “Get the truth and don’t ever sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and discernment.” (23:23) Discipline is God’s way of showing us His endless love. Shouldn’t discipline also be our own way of demonstrating love? Now if I can only teach Molly to let me sleep!