"that they may learn to fear"
I'm going to tell you a story today. It's a beautiful, sweet children's story about a puppy and an adventure.
Actually, that's not true. It's a frightening, true story about a puppy. But there were children involved. Who both would desperately love to forget.
When our dog was, well a puppy, and my kids were about 7 and 4, I was across the house doing dishes or reading or some such, when I heard my Awesome Girl scream for me to come, in a voice that terrified me. I ran the length of our house (which is not huge, but still, I was as far away as I could be) to find our sweet puppy in a bit of a fix. She had decided it would be fun to chew ~ as puppies do ~ on the cord to the vacuum cleaner, which I had left plugged in.
And somehow, not only had she electrocuted herself to some extent (albeit not to death, thank God) but her jaw muscles had locked up, and she was unable to open her mouth to release the cord. When I ran into the room, she looked up at me with an expression of desperate fear that I will never forget. If a dog's eyes can communicate, these eyes said simply, "Help me."
I unplugged the vacuum, and removed the cord from her mouth, and then we ran her to the vet. She was burned in several places in her mouth, and there was also the possibility of internal damage if any of her organs had received too much of a jolt. The vet gave her a thorough work-over, and we left with some antibiotics and instructions to keep an eye on her.
She healed completely, and you would certainly not know now that anything had ever happened. But for one thing. The vet warned me that puppies do not learn their lesson from an experience like that. That chewing on a cord is simply too tempting and too rewarding, and they often continue doing it.
Well we had certainly learned our lesson, and didn't leave the vacuum plugged in when we weren't actually using it. And we kept a closer eye on her so she didn't check out any other cords in the house.
But in this case, the vet was wrong. She did learn her lesson. She developed a healthy fear of the vacuum cleaner, and would back away from it or the leave the room anytime it entered, whether it was running or not.
That was several years ago, and she's less afraid than she used to be. She no longer leaves the room when I vacuum, but she'll lift her head and keep an eye on it. And if it comes too close to her (her tolerance seems to be about six inches) she'll jump up with obvious haste and move out of its way.
And I wonder sometimes, if she remembers what happened, or is there just something in her that tells her to respect this machine?
Some lessons are like that, I think. God grows us through the circumstances of our lives ~ including the painful ones ~ maybe without our even remembering what the circumstance was. And maybe that's due to our faulty memories, but maybe it's God taking away a memory that's unnecessarily painful to us.
That happened to my sweet girl once, when she was very little ~ maybe four. She had done something very wrong, and she was so very sorry for having done it, so tearful and apologetic, that I couldn't even bear to punish her, though it deserved it. Instead, I found myself comforting her, and praying fervently that God would wipe it from her mind.
And He did. The very next morning, I made a very obscure, vague reference to it, and she didn't know what I was talking about. And I never said another word about it. It's gone, in her mind and in His.
I'm sure it stays in my mind only as a reminder of how sweetly He forgives and protects us.
My puppy's experience is forgotten by her, I believe. And yet somehow she has remembered the lesson. It challenges me to learn what He needs me to learn, the easy way, in the hopes I won't have to be taught that lesson again!
~ "It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
that I may learn Your statutes" ~