I saw the first clue that Walter understood me when he nudged the bell hanging from the laundry room door. It was not a well-coordinated nudge; the bell barely jangled. But I happened to be with Walter, and I saw in that unsophisticated action a puppy that was beginning to think like me.
From birth, this golden bundle of energy was being raised to become a guide dog for a blind or autistic person. As long as he continued to think like a puppy, though, that goal would be unattainable. He needed to think like me. So when Walter allowed himself to be moved toward the door, his nose carefully directed to bump against the bell dozens of times a day prior to going outside, Walter was in the process of an amazing transformation.
The bell-ringing became the first of many incredible and useful tasks Walter would learn while he was with us. When he went on to his next level of training some eighteen months later, he was no ordinary dog.
I thought of that when I read these words today from the book of Romans: “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Rom.11:34).
Good question. Who could know the mind of the sovereign and eternal Creator? – surely not us, mere mortal bundles of energy and matter. And yet, somehow, strangely, God wants to do something incredible in and through us. He wants to transform us so that we will be able to think like Him. Don’t believe me?
Read on. “Take your everyday ordinary life,” says the apostle Paul in The Message version of Romans 12:1,2, “– your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
When we start living every aspect of our everyday lives for God, we begin to foster habits that make us think differently. As we become more aware of recurring themes that show up in those actions – themes like: forgiving people who have hurt us, bringing good into others’ lives, being thankful for Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross – we begin to think like God. We’re on the same wavelength. We get why He sets certain goals and boundaries for our lives.
God knows what we are capable of, if only our thinking would change. He wants to enable us to live abundant and flourishing lives, lives only possible when we think like Him. He is present with us, right here deep inside and all around us, guiding us to speak and move and think in ways that transform us. It’s the everyday miracle God loves to do with people.
Walter and his litter mates have gone on to become amazing guide dogs for various people. They help their clients cross streets and descend escalators; they move them safely through crowded sidewalks and retrieve dropped keys and forgotten wallets. Every extraordinary act they accomplish is because they, as puppies, learned to behave and think like their masters.
So the answer to the question, “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” is simple: Those who are in the process of having a change of mind. Does that describe you?