Saturday, February 20, 2016

Still there?

Yes, there is only one door to the bathroom...
If you are a pet owner (or have a pet that owns you – I’ve never really been sure how that works) then you know the back story to this photo. For those who live lonely lives or have sparse imagination, this picture was taken in the bathroom. Keep in mind that there is only one door in and out of that particular room and he was standing in front of it. All of that is irrelevant after 30 seconds when you know who doubts what he knows to be true and implements his locksmith skills to confirm my location and dispel his doubt.

I used to bask in the thought he just loved me so very much he couldn’t stand a moment without me. Now, I face the reality that perhaps he just doesn’t want to lose me. I wear many hats, one of which is the feeder of the dog, which places me in high standing with him. I hold onto the notion that he loves me, but understand that love might be somewhat related to the contents of (or lack thereof) his dinner bowl.

The groomer of the dog hat is also mine, although I can’t say he particularly likes that part. Well, at least he feigns a dislike of the b.a.t.h. part (don’t say it out-loud or he will immediately gain 182 pounds of gravitational pull). Despite his protests, he does like the part where he is lying on a warm towel in front of a heater blowing his fuzzy belly hair backwards as if he were on a tropical island with an ocean breeze. This is also the part where I remind him how special he is to me and how handsome he looks…as the eyes roll back into his little head and the snoring begins.

The protector of the dog hat is one that fits my head from time to time. If there is a loud noise, he immediately begins to try find me. His story would be that he is alerting me to the danger but, his big, bad-dog woofs from behind my legs tell me he is afraid and wants my help.

Early on, I was the teacher of the dog, and he was eager to please. He would eagerly find any toy I named and follow several commands. Again, there were treats involved – so I admit that might have played a part. Nevertheless, the bright eyes and stubby tail wags told me that pleasing me was the main goal.

Schnauzer patrol. You still there?
So, my little buddy follows me whether I am going to the kitchen or inspecting the flowers in the yard. He is happiest when we are in eyesight, specifically making eye contact with him.  Likewise when he can’t see us or worse yet, sees us leaving him (GASP) the crying begins. I’m talking about “screaming like his toes are in a guillotine” crying.  We call affectionately call it the “EEEOOO” song. It serves as “you forgot the dog!” and “I see you going out the door!” all expressed with volume that deny the “miniature” in miniature schnauzer. He just wants to be with us. That is basically all he asks (well, besides the dinner bowl).

As I considered his silly forgetfulness at the bathroom door, I was reminded of my very own. When I leave him, I always remind him “You be a good boy, we’ll be back in a little while”. When he is required to stay outside for a moment while I go in for something, I let him know it isn’t permanent abandonment by telling him “I’ll be right back, you stay here”. He is OK with that - as long as he can see me through the glass door. The problem with the bathroom door is that (for reasons beyond his comprehension) it is opaque. So despite my reassurance of a quick return, he is not satisfied until he sees for himself.

Understanding that, just between us, I tend to leave the door un-barricaded. I do it because I understand. I know God is real. I talk with Him and listen to Him and know He is as real as the sky above and the earth under my feet. I know He is faithful to His promises. I know that God will never leave me or forsake me. But…at times, I am tricked into doubt. (Beware of the Father of Lies who tells you such things. He has been around since the Garden and is still roaming around.)

You and I are not the first to experience it. Perhaps you remember that God demonstrated great signs and Pharaoh released the Hebrew children only to give chase after them. The people (who had witnessed these great signs and wonders) came to an impasse with Pharaoh and his soldiers behind them and an un-crossable body of water in front of them.  Their first thought – they were going to die. Moses reminded them “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD…The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent” Exodus 14:13, 14. Their salvation came that day in the form of the parting of a great sea, and “the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. And when Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and His servant Moses.” Exodus 14:22, 31

Now that’s something we wouldn’t easily forget, right? Sure, easy for you to say. Three days later they were in the wilderness and found no water. Of course, you know the story, God already had it planned out and provided what they needed in a way they just couldn’t see at the time. They needed to learn to trust Him. Years later, just before they went into the promised land, Moses reminded them “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you”.

God came to earth in flesh to demonstrate His profound love for us, and how we should walk before Him. Jesus told His followers He would be killed (give His life actually) and then rise up on the third day, yet when it happened they reacted in fear. After the crucifixion, they were waiting in fear behind closed doors when Jesus appeared to them.  
Before Jesus ascended into heave, He promised “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.  I’m guessing He knew we would need to hear that again.
                                       
If the Hebrew children saw miracles and were still afraid and doubted what they could not see, the disciples who walked with Jesus had fears, then perhaps fear is a bridge that leads to doubt. It could be a  fear that God has abandoned us, or is not watching or will go back on His promises. Satan, our adversary, our enemy, the father of lies would have us believe that. If these two examples dealt wrongly with fear and doubt, then how should we deal with them?


  • We abide in Him. Like the schnauzer looking for assurance that all is well, we stay near Him. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”. 1 John 4:15


  • God abides in us and is infinitely more powerful than our enemy. “The word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one”. 1 John 2:14


  • Abiding in Him brings His love within us.  “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”1 John 4:16


  • His love casts out fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18


Without finger-pointing at all, I recognize myself in both the doubts of a certain schnauzer, freed slaves, and the disciples of Christ, simply because I am tempted to fear instead of trust. Any and all of those fears are dispelled when I look to Him. I like to think that is why He left the door cracked a bit – just so we can see Him and remember He said “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you”, so we can confidently say “The LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:5, 6.


Most gracious and loving Father in heaven,
Thank You for being so worthy of our trust, and for the amazing patience You show us even when we allow our fears blind us to Your presence.
                     
Thank You for giving us Your word so rich in promises and assurance. Show us new and fresh ways to abide more fully in You and Your word and share that with a world filled with fear.

Help us to draw near to You every day, seeking Your face in all we do. We thank You for giving us courage in the face of fear, by being with us and never leaving us. Prod us to remember to always look to and trust Your hand to provide in ways we might not be able to see.  
                                       


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From the Temple Institute. This Rabbi shares insights about the time of the exodus and the quick return of bitterness by those who had just been rescued. A very insightful look at human nature and the hand of God.
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