September 16th was a date that had been circled on our calendar for months. It was the day Truth and I were going to take the therapy test. This is a pass all or fail test that evaluates a dog’s obedience in the midst of major distractions; quite the challenge for a curious about everything, two and a half year old golden retriever. We have been working toward this goal since Truth was four months old and I think she’s ready.
Test day was here and off we went. Paperwork completed, check-in done and its test time. Fifteen test items ranging from greeting a stranger, loose leash walking, stay, and even the dreaded “leave it.” All or nothing…pass or fail… no in between. We completed our first evaluation and due to a back log of dogs testing, our evaluator said we were going to go “out of order.” Our second evaluation, “leave it.” Truth’s most challenging item. And on top of all that, the leave it item was a breakfast sandwich with egg and Canadian bacon on the floor! I took a deep breath and worked to get Truth’s attention. “Watch me, Truth!” “Keep your eyes on me.” Here we go. One pass by and a little tug on the leash but we got past it. The evaluator said, “Now come back by it one more time.” The area was tight and Truth was about two feet from this plate of temptation. Once again, “Truth, watch me!” As we go by, Truth grabs the Canadian bacon! One lunge and she’s having breakfast. I drop my head.
We walk over to the evaluator and she says very kindly and regretfully something that has stayed with me ever since. “I guess you know you failed. There’s no need to continue.” My heart raced and my mood sank. I said, “I know” and we turned and left the building. I was so disappointed with the moment but I think my spirit was crushed because I heard those words with spiritual ears. I recognized them well because I’ve heard them often. Maybe you have too. The enemy wants us to believe if we have failed in our spiritual tests, there’s no need to continue. What’s the point? Those words are very true when it comes to dog therapy testing but no greater lie could be spoken in the spiritual sense. Yet way too often we believe that lie and then we start to live that lie. Believing that lie would be equivalent to me leaving Truth in the parking lot and saying, “Well, you blew it! I can’t ever use you now.” NEVER would I do that and NEVER would our Heavenly Teacher and Master do that to us.
Once we were back in the car and Truth took her normal position of lying next to me on the console, I looked over at her and gave her the biggest hug. Just after her less than sound judgment I wanted her to know that her teacher, her master, still loved her! Don’t get me wrong, I DID NOT want Truth to take the bacon because it is delaying all the good I want for her. The more she listens and obeys me, the more opportunities there will be for her to be everything she was created to be. It’s the same way with our Savior.
As much as we wanted to pass this test, the Lord gave us a greater lesson that day through our disappointment… He gently reminded me failure is never final with Him and He has given me the opportunity to share this story with so many that I believe have bought into this lie. Who would have ever thought a fun-loving, golden retriever grabbing “breakfast on the go” would be the tool used to show us there is a reason to continue! Don’t let the enemy or anyone EVER tell you there’s “no need to continue.”
Here’s the Truth…
I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus return. Philippians 1:6 (NLT)