There are many things that a dog does not like. Chief among them for many dogs is the seeming innocuous task of having their nails clipped. Dogs have very sensitive paws. I have often been amazed at the amount of time our Dalmatian spends grooming. The lick,lick and lick is often followed by nibbles and chomps directed at the skin and between the toes. Taught at a very early age to be fastidious groomers by their mothers, what we might regard as almost ritualistic and surely repetitive is really more than it seems. Dogs don’t sweat. For the most part they exchange body heat largely through panting. But there is one place on their bodies that is the exception and that is the bottom of their paws. The only place on a dog’s entire body that sweats is its paws. Stress a dog and make it pace. Then, touch the bottom of their paws. Surprisingly they are quite moist. It is no surprise, therefore, that dogs are so sensitive to the manipulation or grooming of their paws. Their paws are precious to them providing not only their sole means to escape enemies and pursue prey but also the one avenue by which they are able to employ evaporation as a means of cooling down.
The longer you allow a dog to go without grooming, especially a dog that is kept indoors and away from the natural corrosive environment that will normally serve to keep a dog’s claws blunted and short, the harder and harder it becomes for it to walk. As the claws grow the paw is pushed upward causing an abnormal pressure on the spine. Eventually a dog with unmanicured claws may develop back problems, become listless or agitated. Yet, as good as grooming is for a dog, the dog doesn’t seem to recognize the boon. It will pull, bite and writhe in your grasp as if you are trying to inflict great harm on it. And, the fact is, nail clipping is uncomfortable for most dogs since their paws are very sensitive to touch, temperature and pressure. The very thing that benefits them is the one thing they most fear.
Sanctification, the process by which we are made holy, like Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit seems to have the same effect on humans as nail clipping does on dogs. We want to be like Christ. We long to conform to the image of our Savior in every way possible. We long to walk uprightly and in a “holy” manner. But we often stumble and fall. Just as a dog must be sat upon in some instances just to convince it that what we are about to do will ultimately be for its own good, so too sometimes our God must sit upon us with the weight of his grace.
We need to keep working toward the goal of being what God wants us to be no matter how uncomfortable that may be.
13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
-Romans 6:13-14 (New International Version)
Dear Lord we pray that we will allow you to work through us. We pray that no matter how uncomfortable it is we will allow you to do your work through us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.