Oh, Bella! (Lessons on Love for the Misbehaving)


As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV)

Oh, I know. She looks adorable, doesn’t she? My little 12-pound puppy is a new hybrid called the Teddy Bear breed. Cute and cuddly, she’s affectionate and loyal and altogether dear. A true companion dog, she can almost always be found wherever I am, and I love her dearly.

She is also trouble. She barks! She barks when the UPS truck arrives, which is actually quite handy when I’m typing away in my office with the air conditioning running. However, she might just as well be raising the alarm that the neighborhood cat has wandered into our yard, or the next-door neighbor is mowing the lawn, or any person or animal is walking down our street. We’ve tried squirting water, shaking coins in a tin canister, scolding, you name it. So far, it curbs her enthusiasm for informing us of the status of the road outside our window for … about a nanosecond. This is not one of the ways she endears herself to us.

She also greets visitors with an energy that is a bit off-putting. She does that barking thing, and, unless restrained, jumps up to greet them in a paroxysm of enthusiasm and wiggles. She’s like that over-friendly person who always stands a bit too close to you and talks too loud. Not a way to make friends, dear Bella.

Despite her flaws, I love her exuberantly. She is my own dear puppy and companion, and we are close. I don’t excuse her bad behavior, but I do have hope that one day we’ll conquer some of it and help her learn a bit of self-control—and I do remember that she’s still young.

Aren’t you glad God has compassion on us and our repeated bad behaviors? He doesn’t excuse them. In fact, he paid the penalty for them—with His life. But, oh, He does have compassion for us. I love the description of God’s mercy in the verse above: He remembers that we are dust. He knows we are little. He knows we are weak. He teaches and guides and exhibits way more patience with us than I do with my little Bella. We are loved. Truly, totally, undeservedly loved. And as often as we misbehave and return to God with our apologies, that often He forgives. Over and over and over again. Just like me with my little Bella … only way better. No wonder our psalmist declares in the opening verses of this psalm:

Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

(Psalm 103:1-5 NIV)

Dear Father, thank You for loving us, even as we continue to sin and run in all the wrong directions. Your forgiveness, Your patience, Your love, Your compassion, and Your redemption are gifts beyond compare. Thank You for redeeming our lives from the pit and satisfying our desires with Your unchanging, irrevocable love. We are so very, very blessed to be Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,



Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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