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Our Weekly Devotional

The Parable of the Muddy Paws

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 • • General
When our best intentions fall short; when we find ourselves amidst messes of our own making, it's good to remember God loves us not one whit less. And in those moments, it helps to remember Jesus sticks with us as we pick ourselves up and try all over again.

…for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…  Proverbs 24:16

      My wife and daughter were coming home from a ten-day trip recently, so I decided to surprise them by scrubbing winter's evidence off the hardwood floors, cleaning and shining them up.  It took some time since it also required moving furniture, but I was ultimately happy with the results.

      Shortly thereafter, I took Daisy (our dog) outside amidst the melting snow and mud to do what dogs do outside.  And yes, I did remember to bring a towel to the inner porch so I could wipe her muddy paws.   What I didn’t do, though, was remember to close the inner door to that porch!  (Note to self:  If your dog does get in on the clean floors with muddy feet, DO NOT CHASE HER trying to limit the mess.  It makes her think you're playing a game and she'll leave muddy footprints everywhere.)

      Obviously, the story didn’t end there, since the floors had to be scrubbed and shined again.  Daisy, bored with the whole mopping routine, retired to our second floor for a nap, so I was fairly certain the floors were safe from her this time.  While that was wishful thinking, someone else would be a bigger problem first.


     Having finished the floors for the second time, I poured a (large) glass of soda and stretched out on the couch to read a bit. After about five minutes, I took a first sip from the glass I'd been holding and then I set it on the sofa table behind the couch.

      EXCEPT THE SOFA TABLE WAS STILL OUT IN THE OFFICE where I moved it while I washed the floor... which I realized when I heard the glass hit the floor!


     ...Daisy came prancing down the stairs to see what the racket was about, slip-sliding through the soda as she hit the bottom floor.  She then proceeded to scramble around the first floor trying to shake the sticky off her paws.  

     If you asked me, I 'm not sure I can adequately define "hissy fit" for you; but if you'd been here at that moment, I could have made you understand the concept.

     As this story illustrates, I’m anything but perfect; a fact that carries over into my spiritual life, too.  Far more often than I like, I lose my focus on Jesus and find myself in the midst of messes of my own making.  I am bewildered by my capacity for comic---and even less-than-comic--- errors.  On those days or in those moments I wonder if I’ll ever get this living-for-Jesus thing right.

     Then I remember the men Jesus picked to be His disciples.  They bickered, got jealous, jockeyed for influence, and even failed to be there when Jesus needed them most, all while they were face-to-face with the Savior in the flesh.  But these same flawed disciples also stayed with Jesus when the crowds began to abandon Him.  More important, Jesus stuck with them!  He didn’t fire them; didn’t drive them away; didn’t even, for the most part, get upset with their failings.  Instead He gently coaxed them along, nurturing them in their imperfect state; even leaving His Kingdom in their hands when He returned to the Father.

     When we become followers of Jesus, it’s a title we keep for eternity.  Like His first disciples, we don’t have to muddle through alone, and we don’t have to despair when our best efforts fall so short of what seems best.   We simply have to get back up, re-focus on Jesus by reading and living His Word, and asking the Holy Spirit to help us grow.  From our weakness and failure comes a picture of unconditional love that gives hope to other struggling followers, and a picture of grace that gives hope to those who don’t yet know Jesus as Savior.      

     The key, then, is to just keep trying to please Jesus---in our jobs, in our relationships, in our everyday efforts to live for Him.  Tenacity. Perseverance. Patience. Faith.  Let these be the things others see in us, for each of them is a gift from God that strengthens us while pointing others to the One who gave Himself for us; and Who, whether laughing at our antics or mourning our losses, loves us just the same.

--Randy Kilgore

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