Have you ever been convicted? I don’t mean criminal prosecution that leads to paying fines or jail time. I mean the kind of conviction that touches your heart and if permitted transforms your attitudes and beliefs. I recently experienced this type of encounter during a morning walk.
I left the house early, hoping to experience the peace of walking as the sun peeked above the local hills. I wanted to witness the beauty of the sunrise captured for only a few minutes as it transitions from crimson and purple to brilliant gold.
However, this morning I was not alone.
I saw him standing on the corner, holding a leash, connected to a very old black lab. He was trying to get the dog to move but she was unmovable, sitting on the edge of the curb. The man continued to tug until the dog gained her balance and began to walk. Her back legs shook and buckled with each awkward step. He kept pulling the leash, dragging his companion, and shouting at her until the dog’s legs gave way and she collapsed. Her owner’s shouts intensified. The tugging contorted the dog’s neck and finally, she was on her feet again. They walked slowly and after a few minutes the man exclaimed, “I’m done!” He pulled the dog across the street, navigated the stairs to the porch, and left her standing at the front door. The owner turned, entered the house, and slammed the door shut. The dog stood motionless staring at the closed door, her back legs finally giving way, and there she rested, accepting her place on the doormat.
I kept walking but I could feel the anger rising, disgusted at what I had just witnessed – man’s insensitivity and cruelty.
My imagination painted a picture of a small black fur ball joining the family. So many memories. Times of frustration for her owners but also countless expressions of unreserved love, comfort, and joy. Now she was relegated to an inconvenience, dragged, and screamed at because she was old and slow.
Outrage grew each time I replayed the tape in my mind – pulling, back legs collapsing, screaming, and finally that look, her eyes steadied on a door that had been slammed shut.
I rounded the corner and my indignation was nudged by a single thought. It started as a gentle prompting and then there it was – conviction.
For the remainder of the walk, I watched a mental video of my life. Times when I had been impatient, inconsiderate, visibly annoyed with family and friends. Moments when I failed to take the time to understand another’s perspective. Resisted slowing down long enough to hear a need, see pain, or comfort a fear. I realized my behaviors were no different from the man with the dog – often insensitive, frequently unloving.
I wonder if you’ve ever found yourself in that place, being convicted of an action, a harsh word, or a snide remark. If yes, then you are right where you need to be. Your heart is still sensitive and receptive to change.
So the next time you feel that nudging, that little tug on your heart to reconsider your behavior, be reminded of the old black lab staring at the door. Unlike her master, God never closes the door that leads to His abundant grace. He remains available to change your heart, your attitudes, and your words.
You can trust Him,
He Loves you,
You are His BeLOVED.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13
1 John 3:11-18 teaches more on how to love others. Take a few minutes to read the verses below and consider the questions that follow.
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Take a few minutes to consider the following.
- As you replay the mental video of your life, do you find any patterns or behaviors that are unloving and insensitive?
- If you were to follow God’s command to love others through your actions, do you think it would change your attitudes and behaviors? If yes, in what ways?