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Bring It

Chico and I took a walk in a new neighborhood recently and came across something pretty remarkable. Judging by the way he walked afterward, pulling at his leash, head held high, I think Chico was inspired. I know I was.

We’d been walking only a few minutes when we topped the first hill. Suddenly, a dirty soccer ball appeared from the side lawn of a nearby house and skipped toward our curb.

“Bring it, Maximus,” a man’s voice called.

Instinctively, I scooped Chico up and stood my ground. I just knew a Great Dane or some other huge dog would bound around the corner to fetch the big ball and make a snack of my Chihuahua on the way.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, a shaggy little ball of black and tan fur not much bigger than the magnolia blooms on a nearby tree came tearing out from behind the house, his tiny ears perked, his neck arched like he meant business. I had to laugh. This was Maximus? A Yorkie?

Chico looked surprised, too, relaxing a bit in my arms and tilting his head.

Maximus ignored us, focused fully on his task. In just a few short, but determined little leaps, he passed the soccer ball and wheeled around on it, lowering his head to absorb the impact. Surprisingly, the ball stopped, knocking the pup back only a couple of inches. I was mesmerized. What would he do now? There was no way he could get that thing in his mouth.

“Maximus, bring it.”

Determined, Maximus threw himself toward the soccer ball in response to his master’s voice. In rapid succession, he used his forehead, nose, and front paws to get the ball moving, picking up speed as he went. By the time he had moved the enormous fetch toy ten feet, he had a rhythm going. Enjoying himself immensely, he shoved the ball ahead repeatedly, hopping along behind it, his tongue hanging out.

I couldn’t believe it. I looked at Chico. His nose twitched. He couldn’t believe it either.

When Maximus disappeared behind the house with the ball, we followed and cleared the hedge just in time to watch Maximus “bring it” to the feet of his master, an older gentleman with a full head of wavy white hair and white mustache. Chuckling his approval, he leaned down to pet the dog’s head. Then, nodding a hello to Chico and me, he held a trickling garden hose just under Maximus’s nose. Maximus took only a quick drink before looking back to his master, ready for another go at the soccer ball.

Playing fetch with a soccer ball was obviously something that the two had been doing together for a long time, and I wondered how the tradition had begun. I’m sure that the man didn’t throw a soccer ball the first time out. He probably started with one of those tiny tennis balls made for miniature dogs and gradually worked his way up.

Although Maximus was probably skilled at the game of catch by the time the first soccer ball was ever thrown, I can’t help but wonder how he felt the first time his master threw it. What was he thinking as he moved into position behind the giant moving ball and prepared for impact? He couldn’t have had a clear view of his master from that vantage point, and I wonder whether he hesitated when he realized it. Whatever his thoughts, at some point, Maximus mustered up the nerve to take the first blow and charged forward, relying on fetching skills developed over time and trust in his master born from past experience. Sooner or later, he must have successfully delivered the ball to his master’s feet and enjoyed praise and reward for his obedience as well as a deepening bond with his master.  Why else would he keep doing it?  

Strange as it seems, I can relate to Maximus in some ways. Over time, my Heavenly Father has asked more and more of me, allowing things that I would never have chosen for myself to enter my life. However, He has never asked more of me than He has already prepared me to handle, and He is never far away, even when the size or nature of the challenge at hand makes it seem as if He is. In those lonely moments, when the obstacle looms large and I am tempted to give in to fear or worse, the Master calls to me through His Word. In my spirit, I feel it, and my heart quickens, giving me just what I need to push through and overcome.

When I do choose to obey, my faith grows stronger.  God renews my strength and prepares me for whatever comes next. While I can’t honestly say that I look forward to each new challenge with eagerness like Maximus does, I do trust the Master. He is faithful. He is good. He sustains me and has promised to work everything together for my good and His glory.  Only because I know Him can I even think of saying to the future, “Bring it.”

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