Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
It clanked unceremoniously as it goose-stepped around the living room, a silver contraption of motors and noise.
Occasionally it stopped and lowered its jaws as it emitted a metallic bark.
It was the newest Christmas toy, the toy every child had to have that year. Our daughter begged until we relented and plopped down the hideous ransom for a robotic dog.
At first, it was novel. You could program it, and it was fun to watch it parade around and bark.
For a day or two. Then the constant grinding of gears became annoying. The novelty quickly wore off. It didn’t take long for the toy to wind up on our daughter’s closet shelf.
Then she wanted a real dog, a request that didn’t get answered for many more years. We knew a real dog couldn’t be set on a shelf when she tired of it. It would need constant care and companionship. It would take commitment and a certain level of sacrifice to invest into a pet. If it disappointed her, she still had to care for it and love it.
She was a young adult when she finally got her dog, a golden retriever-Australian Shepherd mix that was the runt of the litter. Lucy was a rambunctious puppy that tried the patience of all of us. She took forever to house-train. She chewed up shoes and furniture and garden hoses. She dug holes in the yard.
She captured our hearts.
Lucy died of congenital kidney failure at the young age of three. Our daughter cradled Lucy’s head and wept as she went to sleep. In the years between, Lucy gave us much joy. She grew out of her puppy ways and became a gentle friend, tender and sweet and attuned to every mood of her family. She gave us unconditional love and her complete trust, even in the last days when she endured our desperate attempts to save her life.
It’s been two years since we lost Lucy. Her picture still sits on our daughter’s desk, a bittersweet reminder of the joy and sorrow of her brief life. Who knows where the robotic dog is. No one cares.
Life is messy.
When trial and heartache descend upon us, it’s tempting to challenge God’s wisdom in allowing so much pain in our world.
After all, He’s God. He could have made us without the ability to choose wrong and right, perfect specimens parroting His praises into eternity. Metallic mouths with which to sing to His glory.
Sitting on His shelf.
Instead, He longed for friendship, for true companionship. It was a yearning so deep He was willing to pay a hideous ransom and the deepest sacrifice of heaven. He was willing to open Himself to rejection and scorn to win the prize of our trust and unconditional love. To Him, we are worth the discipline and work and sorrow.
He wants the praise that comes from our lips to come from our hearts. Living, beating hearts.
Hearts that choose to love.
For God so loved the world…