Hey, everyone! I want you to meet the king of the house! This is my sweet boy, Snickers!
He's really rather easy to live with, though he does like to hog his favorite chair! He's loyal, loving, and affectionate. And he's so excited to see me when I walk through the door after work!
Have you ever stopped to wonder how much better off we'd be if we were more like our pets? No, really, I'm actually being serious! We'd do well to take a lesson from our furry little companions.
Take Snickers, for instance. All he asks for is to be fed and watered. A soft, comfortable bed makes him literally sigh with contentment. And if I give him an extra treat once in a while, he's my friend for life! A few minutes to play or snuggle, and I've got one happy, little dog.
Now, what if we took that same attitude ourselves? How many times do we get stressed, annoyed, or angry because we don't get something we probably don't really need? Even when we're provided with our basic needs, with a few extras tossed in for good measure, we whine and complain because we don't have more. I've never gotten a hint of dissatisfaction from Snickers because he doesn't get dessert or a designer collar or special trips and toys. He just accepts what he has and moves on.
Have you ever watched dogs interact with one another? Some tail wagging and sniffing as they introduce themselves. Then they're friends. They'll go off to explore the world together and play. Now, they may get into a scuffle once in a while, but generally, once it's over, it's forgive and forget. My mom's lab and sister's hound/great Dane mix like to play tug of war with the rope, until one gets mad. After they express their feelings, there's some licking and all is well. And they never stop trying to befriend that cranky dog in the neighborhood, even if they get their head bit off in the process.
What if we took on that same attitude with our family, friends, and co-workers? No gossiping or cold shoulders. And sometimes a conflict that can be resolved by talking openly with the one who's wronged us and moving on. And what if we kept trying to reach out to those difficult ones?
Snickers is loyal to a fault. He misses me when I'm not home. He'll sit outside the bathroom door and wait for me. He'll whine if I leave him inside while I step out to do some yardwork. Nine times out of ten, he'll choose my lap over anyone else's. When I come home from work or a visit with my parents or an oh-so-long walk to the trash can, he greets me with so much excitement and relief. A big smile. Tail wagging. Feet dancing. Tail lolling. And it doesn't matter if I've just gotten him in trouble for getting in the trash or locked him in his crate for a couple hours or ran out of his favorite treats. He's just happy to be with me.
Oh, that we would take that attitude concerning our relationship with our heavenly Father. When was the last time we danced with joy over being in His presence? Or felt limb-trembling excitement at the thought of spending time with Him? Have you ever groaned with longing for Him? Or felt that it had been too long since you heard His gentle whisper in your spirit? Have we expressed our genuine gratitude for the things He's provided us, or did we turn our noses up? Do we wish to be with Him more than any other individual in our life? Do we truly love our Master the way our dogs love us?
So, what has my schnauzer done for me, beside empty my wallet a little sooner, wrinkle my bedspread, and chew up my chap stick? He's shown me unconditional, unending love. He expresses utter delight and joy in the time we share together. He reaches out to others, no matter their size, breed, or color. He accepts what he gets with contentment and gratitude.
That's some pretty powerful stuff to be such a small fur ball. I think it would do us all good to take a moment to consider the lessons our four-legged friends can teach us. Maybe by watching our pets, we can learn to by better humans, more compassionate and content to be...
In His Grip!
"But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee..." Job 12:7a
So, I kinda had an "off" day. Well, more like an off hour, because it didn't last the whole day. I'm sitting in my second day of training, preparing for the new school year. We have an awesome presenter with some important stuff to share. I'm surrounded by my wonderful co-workers. And I'm excited about this new year coming up. When I suddenly went into a slump.
It's not the first time it's happened, though, fortunately, this is the first time in about 3 years. I don't even know what triggered it. I've been feeling really good lately, looking forward to a new start in teaching and content with my life. But somehow, in that moment, I felt invisible. All my previous insecurities came crashing down around me. I looked around me and saw everyone sharing their summer stories about their kiddos and significant others. A couple teachers were back after having beautiful babies over the summer. Several mothers-to-be were glowing with the evidence of new life growing with them. And I was alone.
It was the lowest point I'd hit in a while. I struggled to keep a brave face, but I felt like I was sinking. Again. No one knew me, no one cared, and no one needed or wanted me. (Of course, none of this was really true, but I was convinced in the moment.) All I wanted to do was get away, go home, and maybe cry. And I still had another hour of training, plus the rest of the day to work before I could leave. And then Open House later in the evening, where I would get to meet my students and their parents. I was in no condition to be meeting anybody.
I opted out of having lunch with my fellow teachers. I grabbed a quick burger and planted myself at my desk. And I prayed. I could not go back in that hole I lived in for ten plus years. I had found happiness and peace with my life. What was wrong with me? I begged the Lord to please remind me that He was enough. That no man, woman, or child would ever make me happy. I knew this. I just needed some assurance. Some help. Like maybe a rope to help me climb back up again. I don't know where the despair came from, but I knew I didn't want to stay there. And He was the only One who could deliver me.
And you know what? He did.
There was no supernatural light or wind from Heaven. I didn't get a sudden warm, gushy feeling. And I didn't even hear a still, small voice. Nothing like that. But as the hour progressed, I ate my lunch and started working in my classroom. A couple of my teacher friends stopped by my classroom to greet me, since I missed lunch with them. I chatted with my mom on the phone for a few minutes about completely unrelated topics. And after a while, I noticed that the cloud was gone. Completely.
It was a humbling experience, to say the least. I was reminded that I am still human. I glory in what He's accomplished in my life, but there are still bumps in the road. And if those bumps keep me going back to Him for the assurance that He's all I need, than I'm thankful for those bumps.
I guess if there was a "spiritual moment" to get me back on track, it didn't happen until I was on my way home to get ready for Open House. One of my favorite groups, Greater Vision, was singing a song (Written by Rodney Griffin) I'd heard dozens of times. But today, the chorus really stuck with me, especially after the day I'd had. Now, to some, these lyrics may not seem all that remarkable. The words are simple. But they struck a chord.
"He Is To Me (He Is To Me) my Anchor
He Is To Me (He Is To Me) my Rock
He Is To Me my Saviour
In Whom I place my trust
He Is To Me (He Is To Me) my Comfort
He Is To Me (He Is To Me) my Joy
He Is To Me my Master
He Is To Me my Lord"
On a day that I was feeling suddenly alone and very lonely, it uplifted my spirit to be reminded that He is everything I need. He's my Anchor, my Comfort and Joy, my Rock and my Lord.
I hope this post will encourage you in some way. We all have those moments or even those days where we can't find the silver lining. But even in those moments, we can rest assured that He is all we need. And He holds us safe...
In His Grip!
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7