Dr Kevin Blackwell

Information on Church Health, Disciple Making, Ministry Leadership, theology and Spiritual Growth

A Dog can Teach you a lot about Life

Her name is Belle.  A Christmas present to my girls in 2003, she was named after the princess from Beauty and the Beast. Yes, when you are the pet of 3 girls under 6 you get a Disney name.  After 12 years, she has become a part of the fabric of our family.  She is our vacuum (any food dropped is quickly gobbled up), our home alarm system (her bark is more effective than ADT), our squirrel chaser (You fuzzy rats get out of this yard!) and consistent friend.  After noticing weight loss, extreme lethargy and lack of appetite I took her to the vet yesterday afternoon.  In less than an hour I would find out that our little Belle is dying.  Renal failure without any hope of recovery.  Last night my family sat around and cried together while we all took turns holding Belle.  Tough night.

As I sit here this morning pondering the events of yesterday I felt the need to write.  I am sure regular readers of my blog will think I have hit a low point by spending time writing about a dachshund. It is likely more of a therapeutic exercise.  If no one reads this article at least it has given me the opportunity to sort out the swirling thoughts going through my head. As I think about my mini-dachshund it has occurred to me that she has taught me a lot about life.

  1. I won’t be intimidated by the big dogs that walk into my yard.  I always found it amusing when a German Shepherd or Labrador would walk into our yard.  Though weighing around 10 pounds and all of 1 foot tall, Belle would take off after those large dogs like she was a pit bull. Barking, showing her teeth, scratching the ground, she would put on an impressive show.  This was her territory and no over sized fury creature was going to waltz on to her lawn.  Inevitably, the larger dog would give Belle a look of disgust and continue their journey.  Belle would always walk back to me as if to say, “Did you see how I roughed up that Lab?  She won’t be bothering us again.” Fear does not have to be defined by the size of the obstacle you are facing.  It didn’t seem to bother David when he faced Goliath, the walls of Jericho never intimidated the Israelites and the large stone covering the tomb of Christ was nothing compared to the power of God.  In life, big ferocious looking problems will occasionally find their way into my yard.  It is not about the size of the problem, it has always been about the immense size of my God who strengthens me to overcome.  I will face the fear head on,  look it in the eye, bark a little and watch that fear move on.  The power of God is greater than the power of that fear.
  2. No matter what, I will keep running, keep going and not give up.  Before I would hit the street for a quick 3 or 4 mile run I would have to make sure Belle was not outside.  Without fail, I would start my run, look back only to see my short legged, slightly overweight Belle running as hard as she could after me.  Cars would have to dodge her and she ran like molasses from a jar. I often found myself having to turn around to wait on her to catch up.  Her legs were so short it would take twice the effort for her to run than most dogs.  I once decided to keep running and see how long she would chase me around Tannehill Valley Estates. To my amazement, this 10 year old, short legged dachshund ran after me for over 2 miles.  I finally grabbed her and took her home fearing she was going to have a heart attack.  What made Belle keep running?  She wanted to spend time with me, she wanted to be with her owner.  There are times when life is hard, even exhausting.  At times I want to throw in the towel and say, “What’s the use?”  But I will keep running, keep going, I won’t quit. I will keep my eyes on my Father and run after him.  Pursue Him. Problems are temporary, he is eternal. When the journey gets too tough and I am exhausted, I will go to the Father.  He will take me into his arms, replenish my soul and give me the strength needed to keep running.  “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.
  3. Regularly, I will touch the hand of the one who redeemed me. December 2003, I met a man in Warrior, Alabama who sold me this cute little puppy.  I paid him a price and he gave me that little 6 week old mini-dachshund. She sat in my lap as I drove home, shaking and  scared.  From that day forward I became her owner.  She belonged to me because I paid a price for her. She has been my closest friend ever since. Most nights, I sit on the couch and Belle lays in her bed.  On a regular basis, she wakes up, shakes it off, walks over to where I am sitting and places her two front paws on the couch.  It is almost like she is saying, “Dad, just wanted to spend some time with you. I am going to place my wet nose on your hand and a little scratch on the head is all I need.”  I show her some love and a little touch from me seems to satisfy.  She walks back over to her bed and plops back down seemingly all is right with the world.  A regular touch from me was enough. What started 12 years ago between us is repeated several times every night. The one who first redeemed her is there when she needs me.  The Lord has bought me with a price too.  He redeemed me and made me his own. Like Belle, I need to regularly touch the hand of the one who paid a price for me. The more I connect with my owner, my redeemer, the better I will be able to rest in His presence.  “For you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God…” 1 Cor. 6:20.  “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:29.

In a few days, Belle will leave us.  But, the lessons she has taught me will go on for a lifetime.  So bring on the big dogs!  I will keep pursuing my Father and not give up and regularly touch the hand of the one who redeemed me.  Yes Belle, you have been a pretty good teacher.


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About Me

I have been in ministry for 29 years serving in various capacities including senior pastor, youth pastor, education and associate pastor. I serve at Samford University as Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Ministry Training Institute. I am co-author of the book, Cultivate Disciple Making. I received his Bachelors Degree from Samford, a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Master of Theology from the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral work was in the area of church health and revitalization.  I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation thesis is An Analysis and Critique of Disciple Making Within Ecclesial Movements in the United States, 1970-2020, With a View Toward Implementing a Faithful New Testament Missio Ecclesia


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