When my grandparents purchased a Minnesota farm in 1914, they soon went in search of a dog. Hearing that a neighbor had one, my grandmother Erika loaded chickens into her wagon and headed down the road to work out a trade. Erika and her husband Abram soon discovered that "Old Ted" was a valuable, loving asset to the farm. There is a lot we can learn from his life.
For example, he frequently chased skunks off the farm and came home smelling like it. In later life, his eyesight suffered because of the frequency with which his eyes were sprayed. His sacrifice protected the family. But God paid the ultimate sacrifice. He gave up his only son so that Jesus would die to pay a debt we couldn't pay. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," John 3:16.
In another situation Abram thought he saw something moving in the tall prairie grasses and went to investigate. The family continued working in the yard until Old Ted took off onto the prairie. No one had heard anything except Old Ted who found a bull threatening Abram. Old Ted chased that bull about a quarter mile through two fences before he was satisfied that Abram and everyone else on the farm was safe. God is an even stronger and more faithful protector. "the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one" 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
A particularly intriguing story was told by those who came to the farm when no one was home. If someone came onto the yard, Old Ted did nothing. If someone knocked on the door, Old Ted did nothing. However, if the visitor put his hand on the doorknob, Old Ted in turn put his mouth around the ankle of the visitor. I can't tell you what happened if the visitor turned the door knob since no one ever admitted to trying it. Just as Old Ted guarded the house from intruders and possible danger, we need to ask God to help us guard what enters our hearts for that affects who we become. "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" Proverbs 4:23.
Finally, in spite of his strength and daring in danger, just in time for milking Old Ted could gently bring the cows home. Jesus will gently guide us when we ask. We can depend on him. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" Matthew 11:29.
Old Ted was purchased with chickens. However, God's forgiveness is a free gift. If we do try to buy forgiveness with money or try to buy it with good words or deeds we are saying that what Jesus did when he came to die for us was not enough. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast" Ephesians 2:8-9.
Old Ted was an excellent example of a dog that had amazing talents to save, protect and guard. God is the perfect example of one who saves, protects, guards, loves, delights and sings over his children with joy. "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17.
Helen McCormack writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators.