Ashley Luke or The Canine Theory of Faith Formation
by Harry Banks
So it was time to ask the class, "What did you find exciting in the lesson this week?"
Yes, they know it is a not-so-cleverly disguised way to ask, "Did ANYbody read the lesson!?" If spoken, the last line is usually delivered in a lovingly accusatory tone. And that's why they sometimes refer to the class as "the shark tank". And then there is the
… …. …. Pause … … …
All at once about three responses started nearly at once… OK! So they had studied… They were ready! They had stuff to share… We were on a roll…
We were immediately directed to Friday's page by the first contributor… even though we were just getting started. The first discussion question had jumped out for them…
"1 In regard to winning souls, Ellen G. White wrote this challenging statement: "Your success will not depend so much upon your knowledge and accomplishments, as upon your ability to find your way to the heart."
Wow… that got me to thinking about Ashley Luke, the wuss dog. So I told the class about picking up the dog at the pound as my wife instructed. (She claims I had a choice and I was to pick up the dog if I liked it — with a wife with 20 dogs does that sound like a choice?!?)… Anyway, at that time part of my responsibilities as a member of the borough information technology staff was to provide database support for the animal shelter. Which meant that I spent considerable time at their location and had a proper kibitzing relationship with most of the staff.
So as I finished the paperwork for picking up Ashley Luke, (as instructed) I turned to leave and Fizz… (now anybody with a nick name of Fizz… you gotta know you never know what's coming out of their mouth) Fizz says, "By the way Harry, that dog is afraid of men. But that's OK, you’re not a real man anyway!" (Yes we had visitors in the class and their faces registered the appropriate expression of shock — I didn't look them in the face but I saw it out of the corner of my eye).
Well, I went on to explain that when I got home I found out I WAS a REAL man, because the dog was afraid of me…
So I mentioned that when my wife takes me to sled dog seminars I learn that the way to train a dog is to find out what the dog likes. A cong, a stick, a ball, a treat. Once you find out what that thing is you use that thing to start training the dog.
But what did you do about Ashley?… someone asked…
Well we called the dog psychologist.
And what did they say?
They said don't call the dog and offer treats. You will train him to ignore you.
Well how do you train him then?
You ignore the dog and when he approaches you praise him. And so that's what we did… I discovered when I would sit down, he would venture near me, I would gently clap my hand and use the high pitched praise voice, he eventually jumped up on the couch and sat beside me. Over the years the fear has faded into a celebration of excitement when I come home.
Somebody started musing about how God seems to deal with us sometimes… They observed that sometimes God seems to leave us alone and wait for us to approach on our own terms.
So it got me to wondering. How do I see my life? Is it opening to faith? to love? to Joy? to God? Do I feel God ignoring me? When it comes to God, am I afraid, mistrustful, angry, resentful? Hmmm… a lot to think about… OK, Ashley Luke, can you help me figure out this God stuff… Maybe you already have…