On hungry dogs and God
According to stories I’ve heard, when Luther Hartman, my great-grandfather and namesake, picked up a stray dog, he would chain it up and starve it for a bit. After a few days without food, he would feed the dog while it was chained up for a few more days. This was not to be cruel (cruelty is never hinted at in the stories I know of him), but to both teach the dogs who was in charge and who was providing for them. After a meal following a few days of hunger, the dogs associated Luther with care and provision. They learned quickly to be his.
I generally feed our dog in the morning. She looks at me with such excitement and anticipation as though she wasn’t sure she’d ever eat again. She knows when I let her out of her cage while I let her outside what’s going on.
I don’t always sense the presence of God in my life. At times – like now – I have a strong sense of transcendence, aware of the presence of divine in my life. Other times – like two weeks ago – there is very little recognition of anything supernatural (times when I feel like nearly a reluctant physicalist despite having several objections to it).
When God feels near, and I reflect on the times when he doesn’t, I wonder if it’s not that I’m so immersed in God through daily life that I lose sight of him. His presence becomes so comfortable that I don’t recognize that it’s there. I forget who feeds me.
After times of emptiness and [what feels like futile] prayer, God suddenly seems quite real and near again. I’ve been wondering lately if this is like God starving me, keeping me from mental comfort for a little while until I have a better sense of where my care and provision comes from. I don’t intentionally feel a lack of transcendence, but maybe I’m doing something wrong.
Sometimes I feel like feeling God is a choice; other times, I don’t.
Bottom line is I’d like to be more like our [lazy] dog than a stray dog. So grateful to be fed each day, recognizing from where it comes, that I have palpable joy and excitement.
Be with me Lord, no other gift or blessing
Thou couldst bestow, could with this one compare:
A constant sense of thy abiding presence
Where ‘ere I am, to feel that thou are near.
and Dashboard Confessional’s Get Me Right