“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:8 NIV).

We have a dog, the second of this particular kind known by most as a Golden Retriever.

We chose this breed again after having had fourteen wonderful years with our first Golden Girl, a bright yellow dog we affectionately named Annabelle after the cow in our then young boys’ favorite Christmas movie, Annabelle’s Wish.

Annabelle was a free-t0-a-good-home pup, and we picked her because of her docile demeanor, so unlike that of her half a dozen frolicking litter mates. Lifting her from the pen, she tenderly licked our son’s hand, and we were sold.

Our years with Annabelle passed too quickly. Four years ago this week, the love that Annabelle possessed, that which could have only come from the One who is Himself love, returned to Him in whatever manner, shape, or form this miracle occurs. Some things remain a mystery, but we hope to one day see her again.

Though we didn’t think we could love again so quickly, Prancer came to us only a month later in mid-December 2017. The second Golden Retriever to join our family, we anticipated she would be a lot like her pup predecessor. And she is, at least in some ways. But unlike Annabelle, who, though loving and gentle as nearly all Golden Retrievers are, was more independent and strong-willed, Prancer is immensely dependent, less willful.

In a word, our second Golden Girl is less a retriever and more a…


Goldens have been bred for many years as hunting dogs. They have a keen eye and a quick response, most commonly used to retrieve water fowl, like ducks. Hence their name.

And while Annabelle wasn’t a hunter–was, in fact, terrified of loud noises, including gun fire–she did enjoy retrieving any number of objects. A leaf. A ball or bone. She’d saunter up to us wagging her tail, and all one had to do was hold out a hand, and she’d drop the retrieved item into the outstretched palm, ready for a pat or a word of praise.

“Good Girl, Annie. What a wonderful piece of… (ahem!) mulch you found!”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Prancer, too, loves to retrieve the occasional sock, ball, or bone. Why, one time she brought me, let’s just say, a no-longer-living mouse she’d discovered, wagging her tail like she’d won the lottery.

But Prancer is definitely different than Annabelle. Perhaps her propensity toward dependence is, at least in part, due to her partial blindness, the result of having suffered blastomycosis just after her first birthday. Perhaps it’s her unique, “needy” temperament. Either way, we no longer call her our second Golden Retriever but, rather, our first…

Golden Receiver.

Because Prancer is all about receiving, way more so than retrieving. And as I’ve pondered, I’ve come to see a valuable lesson in this truth, something we all might do well to learn.

After all, receiving is difficult. We often wane from it, turning down offers for help and struggling to ask for things that another might be able, even want, to give.

Perhaps it’s our…

  • Pride.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Not wanting to impose.
  • Embarrassment.

Not so with Prancer. Whether she’s waiting to receive a dropped morsel as one prepares food at the kitchen counter or while snacking on the couch, waiting to receive the cue, “Let’s walk!” so she can wear her harness and leash, or waiting to receive pets from someone settled in the living room for a few moments of peace and quiet or to be entertained by a television show–no matter the instance, she is almost always waiting to receive.

But she’s not the only one who receives, because those of us who love her–who give so much love to her–also receive much from her in return. For almost four years now, I’ve been on the receiving end of her kisses, her snuggles, and her good company. She’s always happy to offer help when one of us makes a mess, spilling, for example, grated cheese. All we have to say is, “Clean-up crew!” and Prancer comes running, eager to assist.

I guess one might say she’s both a retriever as well as a receiver, and that’s really what we’re supposed to be too, is it not?

In Jesus’s words from Matthew 7:8, He reminds us that we play an active role in receiving His good and precious promise to answer us when we call. Our part is to–

  • Ask.
  • Seek.
  • Knock.

Like Prancer, our Golden Girl, we need to be proactive in receiving. We’d do well to know when to retrieve–that is, to get something to then give to others–and when to be recipients of another’s offering.

Yes, just like Prancer, our good Golden Receiver!

Are you more a retriever or a receiver?

Is it easier for you to give to or be the recipient of?

What makes one or the other difficult for you?

Gracious Lord, Giver of all good gifts, remind us the next time we’re in need to retrieve our Bibles and read what Your Word says about both giving and receiving. So often, they go hand in hand–in Prancer’s case, paw in paw. Help us learn from others–Yes, even from pups!–those lessons that will enable us to be more like You. Amen.

To read about our Golden Girl Annie, click her name!

In loving memory of Annabelle “Annie”–our good Golden Girl! 2003-2017