If you've ever been to Camp Fairhaven, you've probably met Dunkin. Dunkin is not a person, he's a dog. He belongs to Dave, who is currently one of the directors at the camp.
I've never seen a dog quite like Dunkin. I've never seen a dog so devoted to his master. If Dave is in the camp office, Dunkin will stand just outside the office door and stare at him. Doesn't matter if Dave is in there for three hours; Dunkin is content to stare for three hours.
Dunkin follows Dave everywhere. Once, when Dave ended up on the opposite side of the lake from Dunkin, Dunkin didn't wait for Dave to come get him -- he swam all the way accross the lake to get back to Dave.
If I opened the door of my car and Dave opened the door of his truck, I have no doubt which vehicle Dunkin would get in. If I stood there and called him by name, I still have no doubt which vehicle he would get in. And, if I stood there and called him by name while holding a doggie treat for him, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would still get in Dave's truck instead of my car.
This is devotion, pure and simple. And in Deuteronomy 6:5, we are told that we should be wholeheartedly devoted to God. We should have the same love and devotion that Dunkin has toward Dave. For us, there should be no one else who steals our attention and devotion from God.
But how often does Satan hold out a "doggie treat" (temptation) to me and say, "Here, Doug!" and I have no qualms about getting on board with him?
I want to be so devoted to God that when Satan tries to get my attention, I don't even stop to consider the possibility of betraying God.
Last week I spent a night in the emergency room at Franklin Memorial Hospital (Farmington, ME). Turns out I have gallstones. The doctor discussed my options with me, considering that I wanted to finish out my summer of camp ministry before having surgery. My main issue is, I need to spend the summer on a very low-fat diet.
In other words, no camp food.
I find, though, that people tend to misunderstand what I mean when I tell them I'm on a low-fat diet. When people think "low-fat diet," they think of someone trying to lose weight or lower cholesterol. And when that's the purpose of your diet, it's okay if you splurge once in awhile. If you eat healthy all week, you could have pizza for one meal, and then go back to eating healthy.
That is not the case with me. I could eat fifty healthy meals in a row, then have one fatty meal, and regardless of how healthy I ate at the other fifty meals, that one fatty meal would put me back in the hospital.
It's a very all-or-nothing approach to dieting.
I was thinking about that in relation to Matthew 22:37, where Jesus says that the most important commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
This, like my diet, is a very all-or-nothing sort of thing. It's not something we play around with. We don't say "I'm going to give God my all 90% of the time, and then I'll 'splurge,' and live for me for the other 10%."
It doesn't work that way; playing that kind of game with God is very dangerous; it results in a very unhealthy spiritual life. Jesus told us that we can't serve two masters, because we will either love one and hate the other, or vice-versa.
God doesn't want us to play games with Him, and really, when you think about it, He deserves our whole-hearted devotion, because of His great goodness, His great love for us, and His sacrifice at Calvary. He doesn't deserve the kind of games we often try to play when we serve and love Him half-heartedly.
If God has loved us so much, how could we love Him less?
My neighbors have an orange tiger cat that lives on the porch, and thinks that it belongs to me instead of them. No kidding.
Part of the reason for that is probably the fact that they have a pre-school-age daughter, and (I would imagine) she's a bit rough on the cat. I, on the other hand, always stop to pet the cat when I walk by, so it's natural that the cat would enjoy my company.
During the winter months, particularly when it's very cold outside, the cat more or less lives in front of my door. Either that or he has very good ears, and can hear me coming, so he's always there when I start to open the door.
I've never let the cat inside my house, and yet, the cat seems to think it really wants to be inside with me.
A couple days ago I was thinking to myself, "Well, we're starting to get warmer weather now, so I probably won't see the cat so much anymore."
And then I opened my door, and the oddest thing happened -- I saw this bright orange streak from across the road and two houses down, come racing toward my door. In fact, that cat moved so fast that he was in front of my door before I even finished opening it!
Oddly enough, the cat's behavior made me think of a verse in the Bible, in the book of Psalms:
It occurred to me that the cat feels the same way about coming to my house as God wants us to feel about coming to His house.
But do I really feel that strongly about going into the house of God? Do I drop everything and race with enthusiasm toward its doors?