The theme for this quarter’s magazine is skills for life. Why didn’t it say life skills? That would be something we must have in order to survive. In the wild dog world life skills would be the ability to find, catch, and kill. Not a very attractive sequence of events but perhaps necessary to survive. This theme instead seemed to be asking for more than just survival tips. It was seeking the solid foundation on which to build a life with purpose. So let’s go once again to the training manual we call, the Bible.
Before we start, I believe it is important for you to understand that my experience with training dogs has convinced me that champions are not born. Puppies are born and yes, some of them have more survival skills like speed, strength, and endurance. However, I believe they are all born with the following three characteristics:
1) The power to choose.
2) A natural tendency to always take the easiest path.
3) An enormous desire to serve themselves first.
It is this third idea of serving themselves that I want to address.
God tells us over and over that he alone is worthy of our worship and devotion. He just says it in different ways. He says it in the greatest of all the commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.” (Matthew 22:37) He says it again in the first of the ten commandments, “ You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) He then says it yet again in a voice that should make us all fall to our knees, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
So, if I were to single out a skill for life that I thought was foundational, I would have to say that it is being obedient to God when he says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Know what? Know that he is God. Know that we were chosen to serve him and not to serve or be served by this world.
This is the greatest gift I can give one of my puppies: causing him to understand who he is in relation to me. In essence, he must know who I am before he can truly understand who he is. His very purpose in life is for the world to see the value of me, demonstrated through his willingness to trust and obey my commands. This will only occur when he truly understands that I can see and understand things that he cannot.
Why is this so difficult? Unfortunately, he has been born with a self serving nature; a deception that tells him that life is all about him. His please, his success, his pride, and his control. He believes that he is the very center of what is important and that the world exists only to gratify him. Sadly, most parents and many churches inadvertently teach the same concept to those they love.
When God says to me in the Bible, “Be still and know that I am God,” He is telling me to be quiet, listen, and learn. He is saying sit, stay, do not move until you come to grips with the ultimate truth about our relationship and which role you play in it. Being still does not mean not moving. It also means that while you are moving, be still in your heart, be still in your pride, be still in your purpose, and look not to yourself but to Him. When my dogs go to fetch they know when I blow the whistle, their job is to stop, be still, and turn and look to me for instructions. Only then can I instruct them further. Even if a dog stops but fails to look at me, he will still not know where to go. He must stop, be still, and know that I will instruct him. A dog can get to a certain point in hunt tests just by watching where the mark (duck) falls and retrieving it from his own memory. However, in the advanced stages the dog will see one mark fall but have to retrieve one that was hidden earlier. One that he never saw fall. It is here that my dogs have to know who I am. What do you mean know who I am? Trust that I know what I’m doing in sending them in a direction that seems contrary to what they know. I believe God calls us to this same end when he says, “Be still, but also know that I am in control. I see what you cannot see and I know what you do not know. Deny yourself and follow me by faith.”
So in the same way I train my cherished puppies to be still and know who I am. I wish to impress upon this great Biblical truth to be still and know who God is. Only in this understanding will you stop worrying about succeeding according to the world’s standards and strive to truly succeed according to God’s will.