Tag Archives: Cora Darrah

God’s Grace- Unanswered Prayers

Carl ran through the doggy door and made his way from room to room in search of his male companion. Little did he know that my husband went out one door as Carl was waiting for the electronic door to open for him to come inside.

Once Carl made it through the door, he was confused and was in a state of despair. But instead of dwelling on the disappointing circumstances, he settled for a good petting from me.

How often do we go through doors in our lives, with certain expectations, only to find the rooms void of what we long for? Then when we are in the space and don’t find what we hope for, we sulk or become angry with God.

Moses, in Numbers 11, was given the responsibility of leading the Israelites after they were freed from the Egyptians. He may have thought that being delivered from their enemies would have humbled these people but instead he was left with millions of complaining people. Feeling totally overwhelmed, Moses prays to God to take his life.

Moses had entered a space in his life that lacked any hope or peace. His plea to have his life taken was clearly an indication that this wasn’t where he wanted to be. God saw this and instead of answering his prayer, he gave him seventy men, filled them with his spirit, and lightened Moses’ load.

This wasn’t what Moses had asked for but thankfully, God knew what Moses needed more than he did. In the same manner, we can be praying for a specific answer to a prayer that isn’t what is best for us. So instead of sulking when life doesn’t look like we think it should, trust in the God who knows what is best for us.

As for Carl, he became content after I scratched under his ears for a minute. He then laid on the floor and rested until the sound of the opening door woke him.

Us and Them

Carl looked up at me and then turned toward the door and pranced out with my husband for his daily walk. If he could talk, he would say something like, “If you want to come with us, that is okay, but it doesn’t matter to me.”

When he takes to the streets, Carl makes it clear that it is all about “us” and “them”. He really doesn’t care about the feelings of the other dogs or humans that he comes across, just as long as he has the undivided attention of my husband, Carl is perfectly content.

Since social media has given people their own personal platform, people are becoming more and more about us and them. Social apps are bombarded with extreme views that automatically categorize friends and family into “us” or “them”.

With each comment, a brick goes up into the wall that divides “us” from “them”. A wall that is being built without concern for others. So how do we take down the bricks to create a world that focuses more on “we”?  It starts when we take our focus off of “me” and place it on a man that walked the earth two thousand years ago.

This man lived each day of His life for everyone to be a “we”. As He was getting ready to die for each one of us, He prayed to God for unity. “I have given them the glory you gave me, that they maybe one as we are one.” (John 16:22)

Whenever I am tempted to put an “us” and “them” brick into the wall, I have to take my thoughts to a hill covered with blood and tears. And when I am there in my mind, I look around and see others that could be on the other side of the wall looking up into the eyes of the man who died for “we”.

Being a dog, Carl will never understand how he may be hurting others when he walks by them with his nose in the air. But unlike Carl, I hope the next time I am feeling the temptation to place a brick of “us” into the wall, I will remember the “them” who resides on the other side.

The Power of Silence

Carl doesn’t have a lot to say. Every once in a while when he is upset or wants our attention, he will give us his ear piercing screech that will stop you in your tracks. Other than these times, he is for all purposes, quiet.

I have been giving some thought to the fact that here is a dog that hasn’t spoken a word, but has lots of admirers. People who run into me always ask about Carl, and how he is doing. And all this without saying a single word.

We could all learn from Carl. I know of times when I have opened my mouth, only to regret the words that came out. Hurtful words thrown out like feathers from a pillow scattered into crevices that were impossible to retrieve. Words that stained the hearts of others.

Jesus wasn’t quick to speak and when He did, the words were thoughtful and held eternal power. Notice His interaction with the Pharisees when they brought a woman who had been found in an adulterous situation.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”(John 8:4-11)

I can’t imagine how irritated the Pharisees were when Jesus was drawing in the sand and saying nothing. They wanted Jesus to speak words that they could use against Him, but He remained silent. And when Jesus finally did speak, the words were words that brought life and not death.

Since Carl can’t speak, I thought I would give him an opportunity to try posting this blog. Thinking maybe he might want to say something to his cyberspace friends. But even with some bribing, he just sat there.

Thinking about what he will write for the blog.

I have a lot to learn from my silent friend. As hard as it can be, in the future, I hope I can be quiet when wanting to speak. And like Jesus, speak words of life and not death.

Not For You

For the last couple of years, I have written about Carl, my French bull dog, with the attempt to help others see a glimpse of how God works in very mysterious ways. But what I recently discovered is that my writings have not been for you at all.  They have been for me.img_1100

Each week, I have stumbled on one of Carl’s attributes or actions that has stirred my heart to give it life. Each blog started as an idea that needed to be birthed, nurtured and released into the wind.

I must confess that too many times I cared too much about the reactions I received from others. But after reading a phenomenal book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic, I now know my creativity must be unleashed for my sake.

Her following quote literally changed my perspective about my writing. “I will never stop creating, no matter the outcome, and no matter how deep my anxieties and insecurities may be.”

We have all been given our own unique gift of creativity that is just waiting to come out. Mine just happens to be writing. The irony of this gift is that it wasn’t unfolded until my mid 50’s. Before then, I didn’t have the desire or the confidence to write. But with the help of Carl and his sister Bee, I have been given a springboard of ideas to work from.

I happen to be writing this from the Miami airport after being on a cruise for the last week.  Carl and Bee have been staying with my daughter and her four children. I have received an occasional text with a picture of my four legged friends and how they are adapting to their life with small children.img_1132

My youngest grandson decided to use Bee as a chalkboard and wrote all over her back with a red marker. Carl has been roaming around their backyard wondering if we will ever return. Both dogs have demonstrated a resilience to their temporary environments.

It is amazing what we can all learn about ourselves through the gifts that God has given us. For me it is my writing.  What is yours? My hope is that you will not let your gift stand dormant in your soul, but instead, you will give it life and send it into the wind.

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Loneliness

Loneliness swept over my little dog like a hurricane swirling onto shore.  Carl starred at me as I left the back porch with a look of sure terror. It was clear that he wondered if I would ever come home and if he would be left stranded in the solitude of his existence.IMG_4232

So many of us experience loneliness on a regular basis. My husband is a courier that travels to remote places where people are literally stranded without human contact. He has shared with me how some people will do anything to extend a conversation so that they don’t have to walk back into isolation.

The other day I was listening to a talk show and the topic of loneliness was being discussed by a psychiatrist. The doctor mentioned that being alone can be just as bad for your health as obesity and addictions. Given our society’s push for independence and how needing people is seen as a weakness, it isn’t difficult to understand why loneliness has become such a problem.

Psalm 68:6 states that God puts the lonely into families. If this is the case why are there so many lonely people out there? In the same verse it states that the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. In other words, when we act independently or prideful and give the air that we don’t need others, we will probably end up alone.

Carl is hardly ever left alone for more than a couple of hours. And when he is left, his sister Bee is always with him. IMG_4037But it is clear that he has an intense need for human contact. Even though it can be a pain at times, we have come to appreciate feeling so needed.

 

Our Unfulfilled Purpose

Carl doesn’t care too much about anything but getting his needs met. Two meals, water, a place to sleep and lots of stroking are all the essentials to a happy life. For the most part, this is the same for all dogs.  They go through life doing what they are intended for, being loved and loving the people in their lives.IMG_4135

If you think about it, all animals have a specific purpose that they go through life fulfilling without much effort. So why then is it so hard for us humans to be content in the role that we were created for?

The answer can only be found within the pages of the Bible. Adam and Eve had everything they needed or could want in the Garden of Eden. They began their existence fulfilling their purpose by living in harmony with God. All was going well until Eve was tempted by the serpent.

Genesis 3:1-6 states,

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

How often are we tempted by the one thing that we are told to stay away from? Just like Eve, we can fall into temptation because we have desires for things that are not from God. Notice how she saw that the apple was pleasing to the eye. How often are we distracted from spending time with God because of our pursuit of what is pleasing to the eye?

God had given them everything they needed but Eve wasn’t content with it. She believed the serpent’s lie and decided she wanted more. It is when we pursue the things that we want that we can lose sight of our real purpose.

Carl doesn’t think about his purpose and he doesn’t have to. He goes through life being a dog that seems content with who he is and what he has. We all have so much to learn from Carl and the animals that are around us. If we could focus on our true purpose of glorifying God, what an incredible world we would have.IMG_4115

 

An Unpredictable God

One thing that I can tell you about Carl is that he is predictable. Just as I sat down to write this blog, I knew that he would come up and start scratching my leg for the ongoing attention he craves. Earlier this morning, I left Carl inside the fence to go water the garden and sure enough, he began to howl to let me know it was not acceptable to be left out of reach. IMG_4054

Most of us fall into habits that make us pretty predictable to the people who know us well. Our bodies seem to enjoy the rhythm of the habits that we have created over time. We find comfort in the routines and can become uncomfortable when we reach out beyond the safety of the known.

For many of us, it is the predictability of our lives that keep us from being used by God. I understand this because as I have pondered about this, I have come to realize that I expect God to show up in the predictable. But if you look at the Bible, this is the furthest from the truth.

From the very beginning of time, how God showed up changed. Only once did He create ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Only once did the Israelites walk around the walls of Jericho seven times before the walls came crumbling down. Only once did a man live inside of a big fish to be transported back to where God wanted him to be. And only once did a young woman become pregnant without relations with a man.

If you think about it, God has shown up in our lives in different ways. The problem comes in when we think He will only show Himself to us in the ways He did in the past. Just as the Israelites of Jesus’ day thought the Messiah would come in the form of Moses or Elijah, we can get stuck in our traditions and miss out on seeing God work.

This leads me back to the challenge that I must ask myself. What can I do outside of my comfort level that may provide God a chance to use me?

I am not going to expect Carl to change anytime soon. He is pretty much stuck in his routines and habits. That is okay for my little dog but for me, I am hoping that I will be willing to reach into the unknown with faith that God has something very special waiting just for me.IMG_4061