Your kids are hungry for your time and for what the Lord has given you.
“Hello, this is Officer Johnson. Do you own a dog named Scout?” the policeman asked over the phone.
“Uh, yes, Officer, I do. Um, why do you ask?” I hesitantly inquired, remembering my cell phone number was on Scout’s dog tag.
“Well,” he continued, “she and another dog were running free down near 303 and Green Oaks. I opened the squad car door, and they jumped right into the back seat.”
“Ah, yes, sir, those sound like my dogs,” I confessed. “Would you like me to come pick them up?”
“Sure. You can pick them up at the West substation,” Officer Johnson instructed. Great. My dogs were in jail.
Scout joined our family when she was eight years old. She’d had a difficult life, as she was abandoned after the death of her brother and the break-up of her owner’s marriage. She’d spent eight months in an indoor cage, watching Spanish television all day.
In a ridiculous fit of compassion, we rescued Scout. My kids swore they’d take care of her, feed her, bathe her, train her, etc. You dads ever heard this promise before? So we loaded her up in the back of the Suburban and drove her to a new life.
We’re not sure how she got the same name as our daughter Scout. Our then two-year-old son Ever was pretty confused about which was his real sister, the furry one or the funny one. So, she became “Scout the Dog.” Looking back, we should have named her “Steve McQueen” in honor of his work in The Great Escape.
About five times a week, Scout the Dog escaped from our yard. She dug under the cedar fence, chewed through the fence, and squeezed between the fence and gate. She even put her head down and butted through the fence slats. We put down so many bricks and put up so much wood and chicken wire that our backyard looked like Stalag 17.
Soon our second dog, Mattie, began escaping alongside Scout, fulfilling the promise of I Corinthians 16:33: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” We put collar tags with my phone number on the fuzzy fugitives so folks could call us when our dogs dropped in.
Calls we got. Mostly from neighbors with swimming pools, as Scout likes to swim and eat trash and bark and get smelly. We encountered so many neighbors, we were ready to ordain the dogs as hairy missionaries.
Scout likes to make me late for work. One morning she killed a skunk in the driveway and proudly left it for me to clean up. Somehow she managed to murder the rodent without getting sprayed. I wanted to keep the carcass as a science project for my boys, but I had a pretty good idea what my wife would think about that.
Big fun for Scout is escaping through the driveway gate while I back my truck out. (I swear I hear her laughing as I chase her down.) So I resorted to chaining Scout up, opening the gate, backing the truck out, exiting the truck, walking back into the yard, unchaining her, closing the gate, and plodding back to the truck—a real hassle in the rain. The “dog and master” roles had gotten mighty twisted, and I was ready for a change.
Next to swimming, Scout’s favorite diversion is eating. In a fit of creative desperation, I exploited her hobby. As I overfilled her bowl with chunks of dog food, Scout ravenously buried her face in the chow. Slowly, slowly I retreated to the gate and opened it. Scout kept eating. I jogged to the truck, started it, and quickly backed out. Scout kept eating. I jumped out of the truck and threw the gate shut. Scout kept eating, never looking up. I climbed back into the truck and drove to work. No escape. No chase. No problem.
Now, I don’t hear an audible voice, but I’ve messed up enough in life to know when God is speaking to me: “Hey Bub, did you see what just happened?”
“Uh, yes, Sir, I did,” I replied. “When I fed my dog, she didn’t run away.”
“Right!” He boomed in my head. “Do you get it now?”
It’s a weird season of life, as my youngest son Ever starts first grade at the same time my oldest daughter Halley starts college. I’m releasing my firstborn into the world, and I wonder: Will my daughter stay with the Lord? Or will she run out the gate, away from Him?
Dads, do you want your kids to stay close to the Lord while you “open the gate” as they grow up? Yeah, I do too. So, what are we “feeding” our kids? Are we nourishing them with the Word of God and His truth? It is really, really easy to let our wives, the Sunday school teacher, or the youth group take the job of feeding your kids. The job is still yours.
You know Deuteronomy 6, but do you know Genesis 18:19? “For I [the Lord] have chosen him [Abraham], so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.”
Dads, the Lord has specifically gifted and blessed you with the perfect wisdom to lead and to feed your children. Take the job. Learn to enjoy it. Your kids are hungry for your time and for what the Lord has given you. Feed them!
If you have a moment, please send an e-mail to ImperfectFather@Gmail.com. I’d love to hear about what your dogs are teaching you.