Our three boys were playing football in the backyard this winter when one of them called to me with words I could have never anticipated. Casually, as if he were making a weather observation, he said, “Dad…the dog is on the roof.” I exploded onto the upper deck to discover that my son was alarmingly correct.
Toby, our new little Shih Tzu, had inexplicably crawled beneath the deck railing and was 15 feet across a pitched metal roof, two stories off the ground. I was horrified. My dear wife was worse, deranged with panic. I understood that if this disaster were not averted, I did not have enough pastoral skill, fatherly wisdom, Valium, or hard liquor to assuage the suffering.
So, with the boys in place below, ready to exercise their burgeoning football catching skills, my hand firmly holding my wife by the belt loops at the railing, and aiming every prayer at heaven I could muster, I gently called, “Toby…come here, boy.” He loped over to me as if it was a day at the dog park, and tragedy was dodged.
As crazy as this story is, here is the craziest thing of all: while our entire family mobilized to protect and save this precious little dog, Toby was completely, totally, and blissfully unaware of our efforts. Hands were shaking. Tears were forming. Railings were being scaled. Catch nets were being weaved. Meanwhile, he was sniffing leaves, enjoying the view, and inspecting the strange metal floor beneath his feet.
Toby doesn’t understand this, but he doesn’t have to; he simply lives a dog’s life in the loving arms of those who always look out for him. Sometimes I perceive God working the same way. I sense him hanging in the atmosphere around us; ethereal, intangible, but very real. Occasionally, I glimpse him lurking within and brooding over the circumstances of life, sometimes gently calling, but most of the time just ready to catch us when we fall; or to save us from ourselves when we’ve crawled too far out on the ledge. Even while our well-being is in jeopardy, we are enfolded by a protecting love.
Yes, I believe there is a mysterious, unseen, hovering God in the universe that we cannot always understand, see, or otherwise tangibly perceive. But we know he is there. His enveloping love for us is very real, and yes, it is very good.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.