As I left the house early one morning recently, I turned on the garage light to make my way out. Our dog, Carlie, who sleeps in the garage, immediately stood up, walked over to me, and leaned against the wall.
Her wagging tail slammed against the wall repeatedly—and the other side of that wall was my bedroom. I knew the pounding would disturb my sleeping wife.
I had tried to keep quiet. My dog ruined that. I got frustrated fast.
“Dumb dog,” I muttered under my breath.
Then it hit me.
Welcome to the Spectrum of All We Don’t Know
Carlie had no clue about the other side of that wall, nor that I wanted her to keep quiet. She simply got up to say good morning to me.
In fact, there’s a ton of information Carlie doesn’t know.
- She can’t read a book.
- She can’t tie a shoelace.
- She can’t write her name.
In fact, she cannot even begin to imagine the concept of these acts that seem simple to you and me.
So, of course, my dog’s brain remains incapable of comprehending music theory or quantum physics. But just because Carlie remains unable to comprehend these disciplines doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The world is much bigger than my dog’s brain.
The same is true of you and me.
Dumb and Dumber
I recently heard Dr. Alister McGrath tell the story of Augustine, who had spent years struggling to write a book about the Trinity. One day Augustine saw a boy dip water from the ocean and pour it into a hole—over and over. “What are you doing?” Augustine asked the boy.
“I’m going to pour the whole ocean into this whole,” the boy said.
“That’s impossible!” Augustine said.
“It’s also impossible for you to put God into your book.”
The story (likely apocryphal) offers a profound lesson in humility as we compare our minds against the mind of God. Even the brightest and most brilliant person is “dumb” compared to God.
The Greatness of the Greatness of God
As I think back to that morning with my dog, it reminds me of the incalculable greatness of God. Thankfully, God doesn’t speak of me (or think of me) as I spoke of my “dumb” dog. In fact:
- My dog is a dog. Incapable (by design) of thinking on my level. It’s the same with us and God.
- The best dog will always be dumb, if humanity is the standard. Again, it’s the same with us and God. Our understanding of God is like my dog trying to tie a shoelace. Again, same.
God’s awesome wisdom begs us to trust Him for those parts of life (which means, by the way, all of life) we cannot understand.
I love how David put it:
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me. —Psalm 131:1
Okay, this may seem a weak application of a deeper understanding of the greatness of God, but perhaps we can glorify God by modeling His grace in simple ways. For example, we can relate to our pets with more patience, grace, and understanding.
A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal,
But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. —Proverbs 12:10
I certainly want God to treat me that way.
Tell me what you think: What have animals taught you about God? To leave a comment, just click here.