The following article was written by Renee Dugan, a full time staff member of Spirit & Truth Fellowship Int’l.

My brother recently underwent a brief stint of dog-sitting for his roommate, Jerry, who was out of town. I should preface this tale by saying that my brother is, above all things, not a dog person. He is especially not a dog person when it comes to dogs with separation anxiety, which the dog in subject, Dexter, unfortunately struggles with. The two are buddies who managed to come to an agreement after some finagling and restless nights. In spite of long days parted from His Person, Dexter pulled through the anxious week until he could be reunited with his master.

Several days after Jerry’s return, I spent a good portion of a day hanging out with my brother at their house. After hours of gaming, we all settled in to watch a movie with pizza and popcorn—a classic Saturday night. And, content with having been the center of attention (at least mine!) for most of the day, Dexter settled happily in Jerry’s lap, stretched out, and promptly fell into a deep, snoring sleep. At a break in the movie’s action, my brother looked over, laughed, and remarked, “That’s the most relaxed I’ve seen that dog in a week.”

“How so?” I asked.

“He just looks so—I dunno,” said my brother, “like he feels completely safe.”

As I watched Dexter lounge and blissfully snore away, I realized it was true. And it wasn’t the first time he’d displayed so much complete trust and devotion to His Person, either. In the months since Dexter moved in with the guys, I’ve watched him and Jerry wrestle and chase each other; I’ve seen Jerry clean Dexter’s eyes and teeth without so much as a growl of complaint, or scoop Dexter up off the floor, flop him on his back, hang him upside down, rub his belly, hug him and get hugged back—even toss him up and catch him like a toddler! And Dexter never once complains or shows an ounce of fear. It’s all tail-wagging joy. He’s content, he feels safe no matter what’s happening to him as long as he’s in his owner’s trustworthy hands.

When Jesus taught difficult lessons to stubborn people during his ministry here on earth, he often used children as an analogy to drive his point home. I’m pretty sure that if Jesus came to teach us in the Western world today, he’d use dogs. A dog that’s loved and cherished, and knows he’s loved and cherished, like Dexter, sets a perfect example of how our relationship with God should be.

We are all strays, adopted into the family of God; and like Dexter and Jerry, there’s an unconditional stream of love that’s meant to flow both ways. When we truly understand, when we unequivocally believe in God’s love for us—that He catches us when we fall, that He does what He does out of care and commitment to us, that He adores and provides for us, and that He will absolutely never, ever harm us, under any circumstances—we experience a peace that surpasses understanding.

And when that happens, then, like Dexter did, we can finally relax. We can find rest after troubling times—safely back in the Master’s arms.