Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV)
There’s a lot of steps between the Novice level of obedience where Cory worked last Fall until she is ready to show in the next level, Open. We have been doing some work at home, but had our first Open class this week. As I prepared her for class, no matter what I did, Cory did not want to pick up the dumbbell off the floor. She would take it from my hand anytime I asked. She would touch it with her nose when it was on the floor, even putting her mouth on it, but she would not pick it up. I thought maybe I was not communicating to her clearly what I wanted her to do and even though I was committed not to use any harsh methods that would force her to pick up the dumbbell, it was tempting. So, we went for help. Because the class is earlier than our usual classes, on a whim, I did not feed her before we went. While we were waiting for class to begin, I put the dumbbell on the floor and asked her to pick it up. She did! She did it over and over even holding it long enough for me to give her the command to let me take it from her mouth. I figured out she was so hungry that she would do anything for a treat. It was one of those “Ah ha” moments. I knew that she was food motivated, but never really thought about the fact that being well fed dulled the intensity of that reward. Since that time, we have been training just before dinner. With an empty belly, she is willing to do all I ask and in less than 24 hours went from ignoring the dumbbell laid on the floor at her feet to racing across the room to retrieve a thrown dumbbell and bring it back to me. I know what motivates my dog. I just had to figure out how to accentuate that motivation. We all have things that motivate us to compassion. Pictures of starving children. Friends will illnesses. Homes destroyed by earthquake or tornado. We are compelled to give of our money, our time, and our talents to help. But, in our insulated world, with full bellies and lots of distractions, those desires often fade, and we fail to respond beyond our initial impulse. I wonder what motivates you? I once had a wise teacher tell me that guilt will only carry us so far. Love carries us the rest of the way. The only thing that will truly catch our attention and keep us motivated is the love of Christ and the deep hunger to share that love. It gets us off our couches and away from the television to become involved in the lives of those who need us and need God. Like Cory, I will do things at my own convenience unless my own body and mind rumble with desire and love.