You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I thought of that little phrase hanging out with one of my older rescue dogs, Cassie. I was trying to teach her to play dead. What I got was tongue hanging, shake paw, roll over and pretty anything but “play dead” so Cassie could impress me enough to get that liver treat in my hand. I think I’m going to give up on trying to teach Cassie that one and be happy with what she does do.
I can get away with that with my dog, she doesn’t mind and her life is no better and no worse if she never learns how to play dead. In fact, here fuzzy little life is pretty good from the shopping cart at Walmart we found her in quite a few years ago.
This may be true for my dog my dog but I can’t always say that it’s true about my own life. In the years I have left in this world there are things I will probably never get too. Like I may never pick up the sticks and play my drum set again or learn how to play guitar though I may get a chance to brush up on my bass guitar. I may never get a chance to visit Scotland with my wife again, though hopefully we will, either way, life will be okay. There are many things that may be on a bucket list but whatever, they could be fun but life is not incomplete if those things are not experienced. These are the things, like teaching my dog to play dead, that we can take it or leave it, it’ll be ok. We can be content with life and have a life well lived even if those things are not experienced are done.
There is one more place where this absolutely true. In your relationship with God through faith Jesus Christ. You are and can be absolutely content, confident and secure in God’s great promises for you that will never change, God’s love that will leave you or forsake you and at the end of the day when you are called to account the your God will see Jesus covering you and call you his child and bring you to the family home with home. Be content in Jesus.
As Christians however, we recognize that there is a different between being content and being complacent.
In our relationship with God we also recognize that their are ways of living that are contrary to God’s desires and commands for us. Think of these areas like a dislocated bone that needs to be put back into place or a broken bone that needs to be splinted. The brokenness of the bone hobbles and cripples us, keeps us from walking on the straight and narrow.
We need not look any farther than the 10 Commandments to see where are bones are broken and out of joint. You shall have no other gods before me. Is there something in our life that we love and trust more than God? Honor the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Holy means set apart in our lives as a day to be in God’s presence and renewed by God’s good gifts. Honor your father and mother. Whether young or old are we treating our family and authority figures with respect and do what is right, especially their time of need? Even when they are wrong do we treat them in a way that honors God and sets the example for what this should like? You shall not commit adultery. Are we keeping our lives pure in thought, word and deed and away from the constant temptations, distractions and accessibility of what is sexually immoral and abhorrent in God’s eyes? You shall not bear false witness. How are you using your words? You shall not covet. Do we want what others have? Do we love God with all of our heart and do we love and forgive our neighbor as we would like done for us?
Where are the broken bones in your life? What places of your life, your words, thoughts and actions are out kilter right now? It will get worse and not better on it’s own.
But I’m too old you say. I’ve been living this way for too long you might say. I’ve gotten use to living like this and I don’t know how to live any differently. This is what I’m comfortable with and I don’t want to give it up. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
But when we say are we taking God seriously because we are so saturated in a world where everything is permitted we have a hard time hearing the warning about God from the book of Hebrews. “For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and a sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.” This is a picture of God in eternal judgement against all that is sinful and wrong, against every comfortable sin and every selfish lie. God must judge rightly if God is just God cannot turn a blind eye to sin and say it doesn’t matter.
The bone is broken, it will get worse, it is time to receive healing. You say you’re too old, look at Abraham of old who was older than any of us and as good as dead but he trusted in God’s promises, received a son and through his family line the promised Savior was born. Look at the man Saul who was a murderer of Christians, a zealot, a violent man and in a vision of Jesus on the Damascus Road his whole life completely changed, he would be known as Pastor Paul the greatest missionary for Jesus and the writer of most of the New Testament. Look at the comfortable life of the fisherman Peter that Jesus called from his comfort so he could be known as Peter the Rock who spoke the first Christian sermon on Pentecost.
I can attest to this in my own life, God does not leave us where we are comfortable and complacent. Broken bones hurt. Spiritually broken bones hurt. They hurt us and they hurt others. They cripple us. But also look to how God has called us to live, to live and love well those around us. How can we do this well if our spiritual bones are broken? How can we embrace those in need if our spiritual arms are broken by sin? How can we run to those in trouble if our spiritual legs are broken? How can we see the need if we are spiritually blind?
For the Christian, it’s never about an old dog learning new tricks that we think we’re too old to do or too comfortable too change. Instead it is always about healing and being transformed into the likeness of Jesus so we can be the people God has called us to be, to love well both God and each other.
Be content but do not be complacent.