Thursday, May 13, 2010

What an Austrian Dog Taught Me About Living Boldly for Christ

My first trip to Austria did not go well and was memorable especially because of an encounter with a tiny dog.

I didn’t get much sleep on the flight over the Atlantic, and after arriving at Parndorf had a full day of meetings and a dinner event with colleagues. Not speaking any German, and having no prior European travel experience, I felt out of place and disoriented the whole time. I slept poorly in the hotel in Neusiedl am See, awoke early with a pounding headache and decided to take a walk to clear my head before breakfast.

It was a beautiful morning and I enjoyed getting out on the walking path that led away from the hotel. My headache was beginning to subside as I strode along. I came up behind two older ladies who were chatting away in German. One woman had a little yipper dog in a blue and white sweater on a leash. As I passed them I said “Guten Morgan” and nodded.

That’s when the dog saw me. I had eye contact for only a split second before he raced over and grabbed my pants leg in his teeth, growling and shaking his head back and forth. Stunned, surprised, I just stopped. I looked up at the woman, who was making no effort to yank on the leash or pull the dog away. She said in perfect English, without a trace of apology, “He doesn’t like Americans.”

The dog released my pants leg and trotted away without a backwards glance. The two woman continued on, leaving me standing there, dumbfounded.

My only thought: “I’m so out of place here that even the dog knows I’m an American!”

Here’s my question for us to ponder: Do we live such lives that everyone around us (even the neighbor’s dog) knows that we’re a Christian?

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