When we first met her, she was the quiet, sleepy, cuddly one. The one who sat back and watched her siblings wrestle and play and jump around. This is a good one. I like this one, I thought. Calm, introspective, snuggly. My kind of puppy.
We gave her a super cute little collar (hello, family full of girls), brought her home, and made her a part of our family.
So meet sweet Millie, our lab puppy:
She did a lot of this calm, adorable, sleeping thing the first couple of days.
Then she made herself at home. And so sometimes Sweet Millie also goes by Mad Millie. She’s into chewing on everything. Whether it’s furniture, flesh, or her own feet, she’s into it.
We’ve all learned to carry around chew toys to distract her when she goes after the five-year-old’s doll collection. Or the five-year-old. And I’m convinced our ever-present cat has mastered the art of eye-rolling.
Just now, Millie came into my room carrying a pair of my sister’s gym shorts. Then she ran back to the stairs and sat with them dangling from her mouth and waited for her transport downstairs (she can come up, but hasn’t mastered descending the steps yet).
But then there’s this:
She’s totally still Sweet Millie. She is still snuggly, even if she tries to help you out with your split ends while you hold her. And she’s still the softest thing ever, and she still has that face. The face that saves her from doing some serious kennel time.
Here’s the thing about Millie: She wants to be near you. And I guess maybe she sees holding your elbow between her little teeth as a form of bonding.
When she’s outside with you, she follows you everywhere. When you’re not moving, she sits on your feet or puts her paws on your leg, wanting you to reach down and pick her up.
She sticks so close that you have to be careful you don’t step on her. She weaves between your feet, not rushing ahead or lagging behind, but staying right there. She’s dependent on her people, and she knows her people are kinda crazy about her, too.
A couple days after she came came home, I took her outside and set her on the grass. As I walked around the yard, she kept in step with me. I slowed my pace so I wouldn’t smoosh her, but she still bounced along beside me in that energized, fully-trusting, the-world-is-awesome puppy way. Every now and then, she’d trip on either my feet or her own feet as she tried to be as close to me as possible.
Then, I guess because she’s kind of related to me now, she’d go all drama queen and roll over before jumping back up and nipping at the frayed hem of my jeans.
And I got this picture in my head of us as God’s children.
Some of us just want to be so crazy-close to Jesus. All we want is to be right there, doing what He’s doing, going where He’s going, experiencing everything about Him. I’ve started calling it the Millie Method.
Is that you? I’m over here raising my hand, by the way. Like, that’s the desire of my heart. That’s what I not only want, but need. The thought of not moving around in God’s purpose for my life threatens to suffocate me.
I think that’s how we’re supposed to be, too. John 1:4 says that life is in Jesus. And Acts 17:1 says that in Him we “live and move and have our being.”
That’s where the breathing and moving and thriving and growing happens. In Him. He’s our oxygen.
But back to the Millie Method. A noble effort? Definitely. But guess what happens after about twenty minutes of the Millie Method:
This child is exhausted. She is the definition of can’t even.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because, let’s be real: I’m good at chasing God. I can spout off verses of Scripture (sometimes accidentally mixing translations together). I can tell you some stuff about who begot whom in the lineage of Jesus, and I can write a blog post about getting to know God. A couple decades of Sunday School lessons and sermons have taught me a few things. And in the middle of my hardest moments, I can tell you the right answers from the Bible, even though I may so not be feeling them.
None of that is bad. After all, we’re supposed to dig into the Scriptures, because every last word of it is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We need to know what we believe and why we believe it.We need to know what God’s Word says, because from it we gain wisdom and through it we hear God’s voice and direction for our lives. Just like prayer.
Here’s the thing: If I’m being completely transparent with you, I can tell you I don’t always pray like I should. It’s so easy to whisper a “please God, get me through this day and back into my wonderfully comfortable bed with my sanity still in place tonight” kind of prayer before rolling out of bed. Or to tell someone I’m praying for him or her and just kind of tossing up a “be with so-and-so” prayer a couple of times and calling it intercession. Or to forego actually praying for myself, as if I’m good to go as-is. Oh, please.
And if I’m still being honest, I can tell you God’s been working in me with this over the past several months. I’m learning to pray deeper, more honest prayers. Prayers that involve more heart and less stock prayer words. Prayers where I stop trying to be so ridiculously put together and just give God all of the sloppy pieces of what I’m dealing with.
You know what? This changes me. This opens my eyes to more of what God is doing and my ears to more of what He is saying. It brings peace and security and closeness with this Spirit that’s already in me. I love that. And I’m not just saying that to make a point. It’s real.
God is always with us, yes. That’s a promise we can cling to.
But if we’re wanting to be right there, doing what He’s doing, going where He’s going, experiencing everything about Him, we’ve got to be in prayer. We’ve got to be talking with Him (with implies not yapping all the time and actually listening, too), breathing in His Spirit, discerning His desires for us through a relationship with Him. Not exhausting ourselves with all the try-hard and tripping over our own efforts in the process. But rather, abiding.
Knowing who He is and knowing who we are in Him.
Knowing we’re His beloved children and He wants us involved in this relationship.
See, the Millie Method may seem productive, like we’re getting all kinds of stuff accomplished for Jesus, but I think there’s a richer and fuller life found in the relationship, not in the religious busyness.
So I’m going to keep memorizing verses and lineages and what the Bible says about situations, because it’s available to me as a way to know more about my God, what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He will continue to do. But I’m also going to let Him teach me to rest and abide and live fully in His grace.
Kind of like Sweet Millie when she slows down long enough to be fed and filled and loved. To feel genuinely secure, comforted,at peace, and full of trust.
That’s the Millie Method I can learn from.