Lessons from Zoie

Today's guest blogger is Emily Duffey. Emily is on staff at Reigning Grace Counseling Center. I know you will enjoy reading this, and you just might end up rather convicted as well! 

A few months ago I got my first dog.

I have had about 9-10 cats growing up. I know how to take care of a cat! Dogs, however, are a completely different story. I have had quite a few adventures learning how to train a puppy (poor comparison, but I have a bit more compassion for my friends who are potty training their little ones now!). I have had a lot of laughs, too. She is an endless source of groaning and delight.

An interesting behavior I have observed in the dog kingdom is when a dog sniffs intently and then dive bombs the spot (usually outdoors in the grass), turning over onto its back, and rolls with delight. The first few times I saw my puppy do this I thought it was cute. She was sure having a lot of fun! Then someone explained to me that when a dog does this, they have smelled where another dog has gone to the bathroom. They are literally rolling in the defecation of another animal. It wasn’t so pretty anymore. Needless to say, she immediately had a bath.

Another day I was slightly surprised to see her get sick outside (too many hors d’oeuvres of dandelions and bugs, perhaps?) and immediately return to where she got sick and started to sniff. I picked her up in horror before her sickness became her pâté snack… that was simply too much for MY stomach to tolerate!

One afternoon as I gave her one of her plentiful baths to rid her of whatever she rolled in/stepped on/ attacked/ ran through/generally soiled herself with for the moment, a little proverb came to mind:

Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)

I had read this verse countless times before, but all of a sudden it made sense. Watching my puppy immediately return to her vomit after getting sick was a bit of a surprise to me. Most humans I know recoil at the sight—but not a dog. They are keenly interested in whatever it was that just came back up. Not only do they go back to check it out, it is this kind of thing they delight in.

I started to think about the things in my life that I should recoil in horror from—the most obvious being my sin. How often do I return to my sinful habits and not only poke at it and sniff it, but roll around in it and delight in it? Peter takes the illustration a step further by adding how a pig, after getting cleaned up, returns to the mud to wallow (2 Peter 2:22). How often do I do this? How often do I ‘get cleaned up’ (often resembling something along the lines of attrition—feeling bad for my sin, or regretting the fact I was caught, but not bad enough to make any lasting change), clean up my act, and after a little bit of time has passed, return to it? What is it in my heart that leads me back to wallow in the mire? What is so enticing about my nauseating sin that I return to it time and time again for a second (or third or fourth or…) examination? The answer was simple and crushing: I loved my sin more than I loved God.

When I continue to sin in a repeated manner, going through the cycle of attrition without any genuine repentance, it dulls my senses. My heart becomes hardened. It is a scary thing indeed when one hardens her own heart. You not only delight in your sin—you love it. It becomes your most treasured object. You worship it. It is a gracious gift of God when your eyes are opened to the heinousness of your sin in these moments. There are times when small glimpses of the wickedness in our hearts is revealed that we return immediately to our true lover—the idol of our heart. The Lord is gracious and merciful, however, and will not let His beloved remain in her sin. The Lord is a jealous God, protecting His honor and glory. A true child of God will not remain forever in the pig pen.

Genuine repentance—a forsaking, a turning away—must occur in the heart of the person desiring to honor and glorify God with her life. Do you keep returning to examine and delight in your sin? Turn to the cross. Pray for a greater view of God. Pray for the desire to “stay repentant” and not return to your vomit, playing the part of the fool.