This week in Chapel, I shared a story about our dog, Merlin. Merlin lives up to his name; he’s a wizard at escaping. It was through his escape tactics that we met Merlin. Before Merlin was our dog, he belonged to our neighbors and they would text us frantically to ask for help when Merlin escaped, and Jon would run around the neighborhood to find him and bring him home. Eventually, Jon offered to walk Merlin in hopes that regular walks would make disappearing acts less frequent. This was a win-win for everyone. Jon really wanted a dog, Merlin really wanted a walk. About two years ago, our neighbors moved to the country and asked if Jon would consider keeping Merlin permanently. And that’s when Merlin became our dog. We’re very thankful that this little Silky Terrier is part of our lives.
Like all of us, Merlin has a story. He was rescued from the streets of Chicago by a friend of our neighbors as a little puppy. If you’ve been around dogs, you can tell by the way he crouches and hides that he’s had hard life. Because of his traumatic past, it’s hard to be tough on Merlin… at least it’s hard for me. It’s not hard for my husband, Dave. He believed that we were making excuses for Merlin and allowing him to behave badly just because he’s had a hard life. You see, when Merlin wants a walk, which he always does, he pesters us until we agree to walk him. When we finally give in he jumps around in circles and pounces all over the place so that it’s impossible to get the leash on him. Dave would have none of this. He refused to allow Merlin to behave in this way. He was bound and determined that Merlin would sit calmly on a designated chair and let Dave put the leash on him in order to go for a walk.
Because of his traumatic past, it’s hard to be tough on Merlin…
at least it’s hard for me.
I confess that I played the part of the nagging wife on this one. “Honey, he’s not capable of doing that,” I said foolishly. Because of Merlin’s early struggles and pain and suffering as a puppy, I determined that he was incapable of learning something new. I was wrong. It took a few weeks of consistent and insistent effort, but Merlin eventually did learn to sit still and let Dave put the leash on him before heading outside. My husband’s high expectations allowed Merlin to change. And now, the rest of us reap the benefits because Merlin calms down when we put the leash on him too (if we hold the same high expectations).
Because each of us are made in God’s image, we are infinitely more capable of change than Merlin or any other creature. Being image bearers of God Himself makes us creative, intelligent, inventive, and able to change. Animals make the same kinds of homes and nests they’ve been making for centuries, but humans invent new and better ways all the time. Often what keeps us from applying this same creative effort in our own lives is that we are content with low expectations. We dwell in the past and make excuses instead of change.
Christ provides the means, the motive, and the opportunity to change as we embrace the struggles in our lives. Each of us has experienced struggle and difficulty and if we lean in to the hard things and listen to feedback from others, we can change. Our teachers want the best for our students and want to help them continue to revise their story. In our house huddles, each house leader asked everyone to consider where they could set higher expectations for themselves. As I listened to these discussions, I heard adults talk about better time management and I heard students talk about wanting to be more obedient and focused. May God renew our minds by the power of His Word so that we are transformed more and more as we seek to follow Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
As presented by Mrs. Collins to our student body in Chapel on Friday, September 7, 2018.