The other day I overheard a conversation between Floey and her cousin Lucy, a golden retriever who is just a few months younger than Floey. Mim, Floey, and I had walked over to my brother’s house for our afternoon walk, and Lucy came out of the Carpentry Shop to play. My brother Danny followed her with a couple tennis balls and a ball thrower. After about twenty minutes of chasing balls, everyone was ready to take a break. That’s when I overheard Lucy and Floey talking. They didn’t seem very happy with each other.
“Floey, I can’t understand why you don’t bring the ball back to Dad to throw again. Why do you just chase the ball, and then plop down on the ground and look at the rest of us, daring us to come get it? That’s not the way to play ball!”
“That’s the way I play ball! Once I catch the ball, why in the world would I return it? It’s mine, fair and square. The game is chasing, anyway, not catching a ball just to return it.”
“You’re wrong about that, Floey. God created us dogs to retrieve things for our humans. That’s part of God’s grand scheme in life. I’m especially good at retrieving things for my human friends, that’s why everyone calls me a “golden retriever.”
“That’s crazy, Lucy. You’re making up God’s design in life to fit what you like to do. God didn’t make dogs to retrieve little tokens for bossy humans with nothing better on their hands to do than throw tennis balls. God created dogs to run really fast, to chase away wild animals to keep the dangerous enemies away from our human friends.”
“Oh, yeah!” Lucy replied. “God created us to catch ducks that our humans shoot for food and to bring the ducks back to our humans. When our humans throw tennis balls, they are just trying to keep us in shape for those important hunting expeditions.”
The dogs were quiet for a few minutes. They were both catching their breath after all that running and arguing. Finally Floey said, “I’m thirsty, Lucy.”
“Me, too. Let’s go into the shop for a drink.”
They both got up and trotted into the shop. Floey lapped up a cup or two of water from the shop water bucket. Then she looked over at Sadie, the canine matriarch of the Carpentry Shop. Sadie was lying on her pillow near one of the saws. She looked over at the two young dogs, hoping they wouldn’t come over and try to get her to play. She let out a low growl to let them know her thoughts. Meanwhile, Lucy quenched her thirst at the water bucket.
Mim, Danny, and I had followed the dogs into the shop. Danny walked over to the treat corner and said, “Anyone want a treat?” All three dogs followed him to the opposite end of the shop, and he gave each dog an extra large Milk Bone. It was the biggest treat Floey had ever seen. She bit it, and half fell out of her mouth. Lucy, who had already gobbled up hers, reached down and gobbled up that half before Floey realized what was happening. But Floey didn’t seem to mind. Even half of that treat was more than she usually gets.
Floey said to Lucy, “Let’s go back outside before your dad starts up any of those noisy saws. I hate how noisy it gets in here.”
“Okay,” Lucy responded, and both dogs went back outside. Sadie followed them, but found a nice spot in the shade to lie down.
Lucy and Floey wandered over to another shady spot to continue their conversation. Floey started it. “Lucy, you have the biggest mouth of any dog I’ve met.”
Lucy looked at her cautiously but didn’t say anything. Maybe she was wondering if Floey was mad about that half MilkBone she had taken away from her and eaten.
Floey continued. “I mean that as a compliment. I’m impressed when I watch you carry two tennis balls at once. I never could do that.”
Lucy smiled. “Thanks, Floey. I think God gave me such a big mouth so that I can easily retrieve things, like ducks, for my humans.”
“That may be,” Floey said thoughtfully.
Lucy added, “You know, Floey, you are the fastest runner I’ve ever seen. Until you came along, no one ever beat me to a tennis ball, no matter how far it was thrown. I was the fastest dog around, maybe because I’m the youngest. But then you came along, and you beat me every time.”
“Like I said, Lucy, God created me to chase away wild animals to keep my humans safe. God gave me the ability to run really fast.”
Both dogs were silent again for a few minutes, thinking. Finally Floey broke the silence. “Did you ever think, Lucy, that maybe God created us with different gifts? Maybe God gave you the gift of retrieving and me the gift of chasing. Maybe God intends for you to retrieve ducks, and God intends for me to chase wild animals. Just think about how much good we can do together, each of us using our special gifts! God’s world is a better place because of us and our God-given gifts!”
“You’re right, Floey! I remember one day my dad read something about this in the Bible. I think it was I Peter 4:10 (NIV), Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
“That makes sense, Lucy. Look, here come my moms from the shop. I guess I have to go home. See you tomorrow, Lucy. Bye, Sadie.”