Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Talking for Dogs


… and other lessons learned from the movie God’s Not dog

I have always talked for my dogs. I think I got it from my grandmother. Her poodle used to race into the backyard and snap at the blue jays. She’d stand at the kitchen window and talk for him, threatening the birds to get out of his yard before he tore them up.

I’ve never had to get snarly for my dogs, though. My sweet Marcie – a beagle that we had to put down a few weeks ago – had one thought: food. She was the easiest to read because that’s all she wanted.

In fact, during lunch many years ago, I slipped out one-liner after one-liner on her behalf. And she cooperated perfectly, eyes trained on the sandwich in my red head’s hand. The kids were in hysterics until one of the twins spouted, “Oh, Marcie, you’re so funny.” I stood and took a bow.

My lab-mix isn’t quite as predictable. His one thought is play, but the minute I start talking for him, he’ll veer into another activity and blow my cleverness. Like he can understand what I’m saying and is just contrary enough to prove my comments wrong.

I used to speak for my kids, too. Before they could talk for themselves. That got old fast when they started correcting me. And every once in a while, I’ll make assumptions and put words in their mouths, nowadays. They tend to dislike that – quite eloquently, by the way.

But when it comes to speaking for God … I do not want to be guilty of a misquote. That’s why we have His Word, after all. That’s not to say that He doesn’t still speak through His servants. He does. But to claim knowledge not based on scripture is a risky thing.

And yet, that’s exactly what one of the characters in God’s Not Dead did. [Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen the movie.]

God'sNotDeadCara, Josh’s girlfriend gives Josh an ultimatum. Something along the lines of choosing the most important person in his life, her or his professor. Josh responds that God is his answer. To which, she responds, “Well. God wants you with me, so it’s the same answer.”

Yikes. Three BIG things wrong with that!

1. Personal Agenda

Cara wanted Josh to give up his attempt to prove God is alive. That’s her goal. Her focus.

It’s easy to see on a movie screen, but a personal agenda can be an quick recipe to stir up without even realizing it. A stiff neck tends to make one spiritually blind. In Cara’s case, she had good motives: protect Josh from blowing his grade-point, protect her own reputation, restore her plan for their lives.

And a personal agenda can be made of good things: propelling a ministry, providing for a need, building a good reputation. It can even be political or have connections to important issues like the sanctity of marriage or pro-life.

But anything that puts your will over God’s is a personal agenda that needs to be squashed.

Cassidy Gifford as Kara in God's Not Dead2. Manipulation

Cara twisted the conversation so that her will was magnified into God’s will.

“God wants you with me.” Oh, yes. Of course. Second Sampson 3:20, right? Delilah’s quote? As Cara gave her little reply, I swear Robbie the Robot from the old TV show “Lost in Space” rolled across the bottom of the screen. Flailing his saggy arms, he yelled, “Warning. Warning. Warning.”

If you saw the movie, I bet you were with me wishing Josh would stop looking around and stand up to the would-be puppet-master at that point, but no. Instead, he lets her reveal the fullness of her problem.

3. Self-Centeredness

See, Cara had nice-looking motives, but this was really all about her. She had made a plan for their lives. She had followed him to her third choice school. She forbid (yes, she actually said forbid!) him to continue trying to prove God is alive.

What I said before about stiff neck truly applies here. She was so focused on herself, so sure she was righteous, that she didn’t consider the possibility that she might have been wrong.

(Fine with me. I was urging Josh to run away!)

But her problem leaves me with a quandary. Am I guilty of the same sin? The spiritual blindness associated with a stiff neck? Is my pride and some personal agenda blocking my view of God’s will? His truth? I’ve seen it happen before. To godly servants of the Lord. And I’ve been guilty of such myself.

Your turn: What about you? Have you been through a time when conflict arose and you were certain you were correct in your “side?” Maybe you’re going through that now. Are you willing to consider that you are mistaken?

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

2 thoughts on “Talking for Dogs

  1. Thanks for sharing, Marji. I really like the way you presented this.
    When you mentioned personal agenda’s blocking your view of God’s will, I was reminded of an instance a year or so ago when I was offered a job that seemed ideal and I really wanted to accept it. I wanted it so bad that I didn’t even bother to ask God if that’s what He wanted for me… I just assumed that such an opportunity, such a “good thing” could only be His will. I had pretty much accepted the job already when someone was telling me about how they’d been praying about a job offer and whether or not they should accept it. I could almost hear God saying, “Yeah, you didn’t think to do that, did you? You just assumed that you knew my will.” When I finally did ask God what His will truly was, I realized that this job wasn’t for me. There was, in fact, someone else who had interviewed for the same job and needed it much more than I did. If I had accepted the job, I would have been out of God’s will and keeping someone else from the job God meant for them to have.