There are times when I think that my dog may be smarter than I am. I believe that most dog owners feel this way at some point. This thought occurred to me on an evening when she helped teach me a valuable life lesson.
The last thing I do before going to bed is take my dog, Nola, out to the backyard. Sometimes I forget to turn on one of the outside lights, so half of my yard is dark. I’ve lived in my current home for over 15 years, so I know the yard very well and I don’t think much about what I can or can’t see. Also, I usually have a small flashlight to help me keep an eye on the perimeter, as there have been foxes and coyotes in our area. Typically, when Nola needs to go, she bolts off the deck—but when I forget to turn on the light, she hesitates at the stairs, taking a tentative step down the first step before going back up. After watching her do this dance a few times, I realized that she couldn’t see the bottom of the stairs. To help her, I would shine my light on the steps. Then, she would happily trot down. I thought that was silly. We both have been up and down these steps thousands of times, so she obviously knows what’s at the bottom.
However, on this particular evening, the sky seemed especially clear and bright, and I was stargazing as we went down the stairs. Of course, Nola hesitated, as I had forgotten my flashlight. Then I misjudged the last step. I fell to the ground, rolling my ankle in my flip-flop. I didn’t injure it, but I felt foolish, and it hurt—a lot! As I hopped around grumbling to myself and rubbing my ankle, Nola was watching me as if I’d lost my mind.
Then Psalm 119:105 came thundering back to me: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Later, another scripture came to mind: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
That evening, I realized that, at least for a moment, my dog had been smarter than me.
Nola had waited for her path to be lit, as well as for my instructions, so she wouldn’t be harmed. I had blindly trusted my instincts and my “own understanding” of the situation—then had been shown how that works out, stumbling in the darkness!
When we look around the world, we see a whole society of people leaning on their own understanding and walking around in spiritual darkness—and we see how that’s working out for everyone. When we read God’s word and follow His commandments, our paths are well lit and clearly marked, and we can walk through life with clearly-defined boundaries and expectations. When we know that we are doing right in our obedience to God and His law, we are safe and secure.
Just think of how much better this world would be if everyone chose to walk in the well-lit path of righteousness—no more crime, no more hatred and hostility, and no more spiritual confusion. We’d all be on the same well-lit path. My dog was smarter than I was, because she knows where her security lies and she always seeks out the lighted path.
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