Miniature Dachshunds, lost sheep and Zac Brown

Published 11:29 am Saturday, September 28, 2013

by Brandon Robbins

When I was in college, my parents got a miniature dachshund named Jackson. He is, in every regard, a weiner dog. Put a tan-colored blanket around his midsection and you’ve got yourself a pig-in-a-blanket. Or, dog-in-a-blanket, I guess. I love that dog.

What I think I love most about Jackson is just how loving he is. It doesn’t seem to matter how long you’ve been gone or what kind of mood you’re in, he loves you. You could walk outside for five minutes, but when you return, he’ll greet you like you’ve been gone for years. Sometimes I hold him up in the air and re-enact the opening scene to “The Lion King.” Does he care? Nope. He licks my face as if I’d just given him his favorite dog treat. (I tried doing the same thing to my sister one time and, well, let’s just say not everyone loves being lifted in the air to the tune of “The Circle of Life.”)

What makes Jackson so great is that his love is unconditional. No matter how you treat him, he will always love you. Which is exactly how God is. No matter how far we stray from God, how many times we hurt others or use God only for what we can get, God’s love is still abundant and without restriction.

It amazes me, sometimes, how the simplest things in life can show us the deepest truths about God. Jesus was famous for doing this sort of things. He would take a simple, everyday truth, and turn it into a profound lesson about who God is and what God desires of us.

For instance, one time, Jesus tells a parable about a lost sheep, saying that just as a shepherd would leave 99 sheep in the field to go find the one who wandered off, so too God would give up everything to redeem and save us. Now, when Jesus is telling this parable, he’s talking to shepherds. He’s talking to people who know sheep. They know how preposterous it sounds to leave behind 99 sheep just to save one, to risk your entire livelihood to save one sheep.

But that’s why Jesus’ message is so profound – because it shows the lengths to which God is willing to go in order to redeem us from the sin and the pain in our lives, to show us salvation both when we die and here on earth. And that’s exactly what God did: giving up the glory of heaven to live among us and then giving up His own life that our sins might be forgiven and our world might be redeemed!

All that can be learned from a sheep. And that’s not the only place we can learn such things.

That’s why, on Oct. 6, we’re starting a sermon series called “Country Style.” In it, we’re going to take something as simple and everyday as a country music song and illustrate how it shows us the profound truth of who God is and what God desires of our lives. Throughout the series, we’re going to look at such unconventional songs as “Quiet Your Mind” by the Zac Brown Band and how such a song can show us God’s plan for how we can better take care of ourselves and our families.

It’s going to be amazing – as the simplest things often are.

So, this week, allow yourself to see the presence of God around you. Find God’s lessons in the little things, something as simple as a dachshund, or a sheep, or the drive-thru menu at Taco Bell (though, you might have to work a little harder on that one). As the Psalm says:

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or word; their voices are never heard.

Yet their message has gone throughout the earth and their words to the entire world” (Psalm 19:-4).

May you have eyes to see and ears to hear the presence of God in your midst.

BRANDON ROBBINS is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or