Dog in the Storm by Phil Callaway


What scares you?

Two things terrify my dog Mojo. The first is our smoke detector. To my children, the smoke detector means that Dad is cooking supper; to the dog, it means her world is caving in. The high-pitched shriek makes her frantic. She clamors for the door and if we let her escape, she takes off down the street. After the second burnt toast catastrophe, she stopped a few hundred feet from our house, then crept slowly back. Then she pawed at the door to the suite where my parents were living at the time. When I tapped on the door, I found my Dad scratching her back and offering words of comfort as she grinned up at him past crooked teeth.

When Dad turned eighty-one, he confided in me for the first time ever that he had been experiencing his share of fear and doubt.

I thought, “What? The man who was part Scotch and part Ginger Ale until he met Jesus? The one who studied the Bible and served God so many years? Doubt? He’d preached sermons on doubt. He led an active prayer life. He modeled obedience to God’s voice.” Yet he doubted.

That night my parents joined us for a barbeque on our back deck. Following dessert, some dark clouds began creeping toward us across the broad prairie sky. Mojo began to quiver. Before long she was panting, then shaking like she had one paw in a light socket. Inside we went. Dad held the dog.

“I’ve got you,” he said. “Don’t worry. The storm can’t get you.”

I could have preached a sermon to my dad about how God has his arms around him in the storm. I could have told Dad that one of the things a dog teaches us is that we don’t have to understand everything to be happy. But I didn’t need to.

You know dogs must have all kinds of questions too. I’m sure Mojo is confused by many of my activities. I keep her from things she’d like. Garbage cans. Highways. Bad food. I’m not sure if she always views me as kind and generous. Still she loves me. I feel a little like this when it comes to my view of God. So much I don’t understand. But a God I can understand would be too small a God to worship.

“Blessed are those who have not seen but still believe,” said Jesus in John 20:29.

And I believe.

As the hail stopped and the storm blew over, Dad seemed to relax his hold on the dog.

“This dog is a blessing,” I heard him say.

I’m sure doubts lingered, but for now a small dog managed to remind him that someone bigger has his arms around us and he’ll never let go. I hope you’ll let that thought bring back the joy today.

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