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A Lesson From My Dog

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Sometimes, we need to listen to our four-legged friends.

There are times when I think my dog may be smarter than I am. I am sure that most dog owners feel this way at some point, and I certainly felt that way one evening when she helped teach me a valuable life lesson.

The last thing I do before going to bed every evening is take my dog, Nola, out to the backyard. Sometimes I forget to turn on one of the outside lights, which leaves half of my yard in the dark. I’ve lived in my current home for more than 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 carry a small flashlight to help me keep an eye on the perimeter, as foxes and coyotes have occasionally been seen in our area.

Typically, when Nola needs to do her business, she bolts off the deck. But when I forget to turn on the light, she hesitates at the stairs—making a tentative move down the first step before climbing back up. After watching her do this dance a few times, I understood that she cannot see the bottom of the stairs when it is dark outside. So, to help her, I shine my light on the steps. With her path well-lit, she will happily trot down. Even so, I thought at first that this was silly of her. We both have been up and down these steps thousands of times, so she obviously knows what’s at the bottom, whether or not she can see it.

My Dog Knew Better

However, on this particular evening, the sky seemed especially clear and bright, and I was stargazing as we traipsed down the stairs. This time, however, I had forgotten my flashlight, so Nola hesitated, as expected. Then, I misjudged my last step. I fell to the ground, rolling my ankle in my flip-flop. I wasn’t seriously injured, but I felt awfully foolish, and my ankle hurt—a lot! As I hopped around, grumbling to myself and rubbing my ankle, Nola was watching me as if I had lost my mind.

Suddenly, Psalm 119:105 came thundering into my thoughts: “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 her owner. Nola had waited for her path to be lit, and had waited for my instructions, so she wouldn’t be harmed. I, on the other hand, had blindly and foolishly trusted my instincts and my “own understanding” of the situation—then quickly learned how that works out as I stumbled in the darkness.

When we look around the world, we see most of our society leaning on its own understanding and walking in spiritual darkness—and we see how it is working out for them! By contrast, when we obey 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 her owner, because she knows where her security lies and she always seeks out the lighted path. The Bible illuminates for us a well-lit path of practical, applicable wisdom, often written in beautiful yet simple verse. If you are seeking wisdom, you need to learn more about this ultimate book of knowledge. As you learn, keep reading Tomorrow’s World for more insights. We offer plenty of free resources to aid you in your studies.