Wanted: Someone to love me, feed me, play with me, take me on walks, and to let me sit on their lap. In exchange, I will love you unconditionally, be your best friend, and never tell your secrets…
When my husband and I recently decided we wanted to take the leap into becoming puppy parents, I started doing copious amounts of online research. We have a breed we call our favorite, so this assisted me in narrowing down the search. As I started perusing websites and deciding we needed five four-legged companions instead of one because of the myriad of fluffy, adorable puppy pictures on my screen, I noticed something intriguing.
Every breeder had a detailed application process, multiple deposits, and strict guidelines on who was good enough to meet their standards for taking home one of their precious puppies.
The applications were intense and comprehensive: who will be home with the puppy? Will it be outside? Inside? Fence, no fence? Occupations of applicants? Do you own your own home? Backyard? Vet references? Will you follow the breeder’s spay/neuter guidelines? Kids? Other pets? Have you trained a puppy before? Will you buy him a crate? Why this breed? Why do you want a dog? Will you build your puppy its own home in your backyard? Ok, just kidding on the last one, but the list went on and on and on… (I should note, this is not a endangered, rare breed of dog we are requesting — just a common family dog breed.)
I repeatedly mulled over this application process — wondering why these breeders cared so much? Our puppy will have a wonderful life! We are awesome people! Let me tell them how much we will enjoy this family pet! Yet even in the midst of my personal accolades, I found myself doubting our abilities, contemplating whether or not we really were fit to add a dog member to our family. Should we read more how-to books? Watch more training videos? Have a better backyard? Buy more expensive food? Buy the fancy collar and most costly leash? Were we good enough?
The downward spiral of questioning continued as I finally asked myself: what are these breeders’ motives? To cause doubt? To make us choose not to get a puppy? To be nosy? Why don’t they just want our money in exchange for the puppy so they can move on and have more puppies?
The thoughts tumbled and the answer came: Love.
This is why they required five pages of answered questions and gave us lists of recommended dog foods, products, toys, and leashes. This is why they wanted to meet us and make sure a puppy would fit into our home and lifestyle. This is why they cared more about the puppies’ well-being than the monetary gain they stood to receive in exchange. These were their puppies, their babies, their livelihood, yes, but love trumped all when it came to choosing their forever homes.
Love motivated them. Love caused them to care. Love put the puppies’ interests before their own wallet.
This type of selfless caring reminded me of Jesus’ love – the greatest love that ever was and will be for us. There’s no application for His love, no fee to receive it, no way to earn it, no monetary gain to motivate it. Just love for His children, His created ones, His unique sons and daughters.
He paid the ultimate price — died a sacrificial death for us — and He says,
I love you. Just as you are. There’s no application, no need to spend your life striving to earn my love, my adoration. You already have it. It’s a gift. A free gift.
My love led me to the cross so I could one day lead you into eternity with me.
Don’t miss my love.
Don’t keep on trying to earn it through perfectionism or good works.
Don’t think you’re not good enough to apply.
Because I’m here. I’m waiting. There are no pre-requesites, occupational requirements, or talent shows.
It’s just me. And my overwhelming, unconditional love infused with incredible, life-changing grace.
I’m standing with my arms open wide…
Waiting for you.