Febiet lives with my uncle’s family. He is 13. If you had to convert that into human years, he is well over 90 and approaching a century. My parents were not very keen on having pets at home, so Febi was one of the two dogs I even got a chance to get acquainted with and to pet. The other one was a very good friend and play partner at a relative’s house, but I ended up being bit by him when I was around 7. Since then, I’ve been like, “Okay doggy, I love you, but I am NOT coming very close to you”, with every dog I met. The same was true for Febi.
I still remember the very first time I saw him. He was a little puppy, but he barked so very furiously at the sight of new faces. My feet literally trembled, even though he was in chains and behind gates and I was at a safe distance. He was such a good watchdog, and still is, though old and weak.
I’ve watched how uncle used to come back from work and spend time feeding, training and petting him. I could tell he enjoyed every minute with his master because he just wouldn’t stop wagging his tail.
The handshake, handstand walk were all delightful to watch, but there was another favorite trick. Either uncle or one of my cousins would place food or treats before him and say “No”. He wouldn’t touch it until the command “No” changes to “Take it, Febi”. I was blown away by this, but at the same time I would think, “Oh come on! Don’t do this to him, either give him or don’t. This is cruel!” But Febi did not seem to mind and obeyed his master every single time.
These days, I live closer to my uncle’s and visit them frequently. During one such visits this Sunday, I watched my uncle and cousin pet and feed Febi. I began noticing how many things have changed over the years. My uncle bid for Febi to come and with great difficulty he climbed the steps and looked at uncle with eager eyes. He enjoyed uncle giving him a nice rub on his fur. Uncle also asked for a handshake but he was too weak to lift his foreleg. We could see he tried though. Then my cousin went ahead and placed a plate of bones and said “No.” I was amazed on seeing his response. He did not even look at the plate. He looked straight into uncle’s eyes and kept his gaze until the command changed. He fixed his eyes not on what was offered, but rather on his master. And when his master did give him permission to go ahead, he feasted.
As I sat that afternoon watching Febi, I could see what a valuable lesson his actions teach us. I’ve been reading a lot about oceans, stormy seas and faith, and also have been stumbling upon songs that talk about the same. My ruminations led me to the incident in the Bible where Peter walked on water. When the Lord said “Come”, he stepped out in faith, but the minute he saw the wind and the waves, he stumbled. The minute he looked away from the Master, he fell. Just like how Febi could have been tempted to grab the bones, if he hadn’t fixed his eyes on his master. As Jesus saw Peter sinking, he asks, “Why did you doubt?”
Why do we doubt? Doesn’t our Master know what to give us and when to give us that? Why do we seek something that is not His will? Or why do we take something by force something that He has prepared for us without waiting for the right time to come? Why do we, in deepest waters, fear that we may drown? Because our heart is not after His and our eyes are not on His. Because we haven’t learnt to stay and wait. Because that forbidden tree is far more pleasing than the thousand other blessings at hand. Because the ocean is too deep and our trust has borders.
Waves raging? Stay calm and keep walking. Feeling directionless? Stay calm, the path will unfold. Feeling dragged down by the past? Stay calm, His time will come. Those around you have recovered and making good progress, but you are still struggling and taking baby steps? Stay calm and keep moving. We only know what they tell or show us but never know what they are through. I love these lines from “Stay and Wait” by Hillsong United:
I will stay should the world by me fold
Lift up Your name as the darkness falls
I will wait and hold fast to Your word
Heart on Your heart and my eyes on Yours.
God of wonder and God of grace
Let my soul stand always to praise You
Fix my eyes on Your perfect way
And I’ll never look back.
Febi may have a year or so left in his calendar, says uncle. And what a faithful companion he had been to the family and to his master! And how beautiful will our lives be, if we cling to our Saviour until our feeble days in earth are over! After all, our God is a God who can create a pathway in the ocean.
UPDATE: 09th September, 2016
Febi passed away this morning. He would have been 14 come December.
I’m very grateful to have had the chance to meet a lovely dog like Febi. He will be missed.