I’m a huge fan of Cesar Millan. He’s the star of the National Geographic channel’s hit show “The Dog Whisperer.” Cesar goes into dog owners’ homes and transforms the most out-of-control dogs into man’s adorable best friend. Be it a stubborn poodle, a rebellious pit bull, or a hyperactive Chihuahua, Cesar deftly brings them into calm, happy submission.
I confess to watching multiple episodes in one sitting. I often look for a notepad to write down something Cesar said. I would buy his book if he wrote one. Did I mention I don’t currently own a dog?
It’s not Cesar’s mega-watt smile that holds my attention. It’s his totally-in-control-yet-tranquil presence that amazes me and tames these beasts. Cesar calls it “calm, assertive energy” and it oozes from every cell in his being. He walks into the room and the weight of his presence takes charge of the dogs, often without a single word. (Even humans fall in line!) With a single look in his eyes, these dogs know he is the pack leader. When he does communicate verbally with them, it’s typically with a whispering sound. Shhh.
A dog’s excited behavior like tail-chasing, shoe-chewing, or excessive barking may appear to us as normal dog-antics, but Cesar says it’s actually the sign of an unbalanced dog in need of boundaries and purpose. Cesar maintains that dogs are happiest serving in submission to a loving master, and he demonstrates it episode after episode. When it comes to dogs, Cesar coaxes calm from chaos.
Jesus has a similar effect on me. At times I’m impulsive — I blame it on my hormones. At times I’m hotheaded — I blame that on my hormones too. Yes, I can be as high-strung as Cesar’s canine cases. I can also be a perfectionist, and when I fail, I can grow depressed. Feeling unbalanced, I’ll seek familiarity and comfort — too often in a Ben & Jerry’s container in my freezer. It’s then I need God’s help finding my way back into calm and happy submission.
Throughout the Gospels, I see Christ’s “calm, assertive energy” taming the impulsive, sometimes hotheaded disciple Peter. Peter and I are a lot alike. We both desire to trust and follow Christ. Yet by the time the rooster crows next, we can be totally focused on our circumstances with emotions flying. Then we feel depressed over our lack of spiritual consistency and run for our comfort zone. While my comfort zone might be ice cream, Peter’s was fishing.
After Jesus’ arrest, Peter verbally denied knowing Christ three different times, fearing for his own well-being. When he realized what he’d done, Peter sobbed. He must have felt like his world was out of balance, so Peter left the city and went back to what was familiar — fishing.
Days later the risen Jesus sought Peter along the shore of the sea and asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Three times Jesus asked Peter this same question and three times Peter answered affirmatively, insisting, “Lord you know everything; you know that I love you!”
When I’m upset by life or disappointed in my shortcomings, Peter’s story helps me hear Jesus whispering to my own heart: Don’t get depressed and throw in the towel, Rachel, because you fear you’ve failed or let Me down. I know that you love Me. Get back in there and love others with this love.
Just like that, my self-pity party or self-punishment session is over. I’m no longer chasing my tail or biting everyone who comes near. Like a shoe-chewing puppy brought into calm submission by the presence of the Dog Whisperer, my stubborn selfishness and impatient perfectionism are tamed as I gaze into the face of Christ in the Gospels. Jesus calms my senseless striving, alleviates my faithless fears and redirects my selfish actions. He is my Soul Whisperer.
Don’t worry; my husband is fully aware of my fascination with Cesar Millan. Rick laughingly claims watching the Dog Whisperer puts me in a “calm, submissive state,” which he’s been trying to accomplish for years! His joking has a ring of truth. Although I find it difficult to control my weight, anger, and tongue, the impulse to control my husband comes all too easy! I’m thankful God sent the Soul Whisperer so that He helps me overcome these issues and more. I just have to listen for Jesus’ still, small voice speaking to my heart.
It’s not really the man Cesar Millan I find so appealing; it’s the biblical qualities of peace, patience, kindness, joy and self-control he displays. Watching the Dog Whisperer in action reminds me of the amazing qualities of my own gentle master, Jesus, and His unfailing ability to calm my anxious soul with just a whisper. Shhh, Rachel, do you love Me?
Taken from proverbs31, by Rachel Olsen. Copyright © 2007 Used by permission
Rachel Olsen is a national speaker with a passion to lead women to the Soul Whisperer. She is a writer and general editor for the devotional book “God’s Purpose for Every Woman” and a contributing author to “Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry.” Rachel serves as senior editor for P31’s online devotions, “Encouragement for Today.” She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina where she and her husband teach college and homeschool their children, Alaina and Caleb.