Tag Archives: Faith

Slammed Doors

Carl stood at the door waiting for us to call his name to come along on a journey. But today, Carl wasn’t going to be able to come. Instead of joining us for a fun episode of life, the door was shut in his face.

How often do we wait at the door of opportunity to have a door shut in our face? We can be so excited about life one moment and then the next moment, we feel like God has played a joke on us.

It is during these times of trials and suffering, with no entrance in sight that we are forced to take our focus off of what is on the opposite side of the door. It is at this moment that we are provided other options, ones that we may not choose, but ones that have to be faced.

Most of the people Jesus interacted with had doors shut in their face. Individuals just like you and me that were locked out of the dreams that they had based their happiness on. Some chose the path of bitterness and resentment that left them facing the locked exit.

But then there were the few that understood Jesus’s power to show them an upward direction that would transport their earthly journey to a spiritual one.

There was a Gentile woman that knew what life was like to have doors slammed in her face. Her daughter was demon possessed and was suffering. This mother had heard about the miracles that Jesus had performed and believed that He was from God.

The woman respected Jesus’s mission. He had come specifically for the Jews but she had to try. So when she engaged Him in a conversation about dogs eating crumbs, Jesus opened the door of healing. (Matthew 15:21-28)

As we drive down the road towards our destination, I can’t help but think about the door that Carl is facing. Hopefully, he will realize that he needs to look beyond the door until we return. If not, he will be staring at a shut door for quite a while. Poor Carl.

Our Deepest Desire

It was clear what Carl wanted. We were sitting at the breakfast table when Carl placed his paws in my lap.  Looking at me with those soulful brown eyes, if he could speak, he would be asking for some of the sausage dish that could be seen on our plates.

I pushed his paws off me and firmly told him that he would not be getting any food off my plate. With a sad demeanor, Carl turned from me and slowly walked back to the couch and curled up in his familiar spot.56605741629__FFAC95CB-502E-4A67-BCDA-3817A1CED79C

Carl is not the only one that wants.  We all do.  And the want list only seems to increase during the holiday season. Children are conditioned from birth that Christmas means getting what you want. Presents are stacked under the tree by parents with the hope that their loved ones will find enjoyment from the gifts that are given.

But if you think about it, will the presents fill the desire of what we really want?  As the gifts are unwrapped, a sense of anticipation rises up in our hearts. But no matter what is inside, it just can’t give us the long lasting satisfaction that we all yearn for.

So where can we find this satisfaction that our hearts so desperately desires? Will it be in the things that take up the space in our homes? Or in the accomplishment of a lifetime goal? Could it come through a relationship that has been sought after?

What if our greatest want or desire could be satisfied by the baby in the manger? The newborn cuddled up in the hay.

Take a long look at the babe.  The one that the angel told the shepherds to come worship.  The one that the star directed the wise men to. God’s only son. Christ the king.

So often we lose sight of the gift that God has given us. The only gift that will fill the void that He actually created within us.  So in this season, let us not forget the reason to celebrate. If this means opening up your Bible and reading the story as it is actually written, do it. Or if music can resonate in your heart, play music that is intended for worship of our savior’s birth.

Carl will surely return to the table and try to persuade me to give him what he wants. And as he places his paws on my lap and looks at me with his soulful brown eyes, I will use this as a reminder of what is truly desired.IMG_4656

“Thank you Lord for sending your only begotten Son to earth as a baby. I want to particularly thank you for allowing this baby to grow into a man, one that understands my frailty and temptations. Thank you for allowing Him to die on the cross so that I can live life to the fullest.”

Staying Put

Carl stayed put. He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in moving from his bed. He was cold and didn’t want to take a chance at losing the little warmth that his body had generated throughout the night. Little did he know that even though the heat wasn’t working, there was a little fireplace in the bathroom that was blasting out heat.IMG_4342

How often do we stay put because of the fear of losing what we so desperately are trying to hold on to? Just like Carl who didn’t want to lose the warmth of his bed, we can hold on to things in our lives that can keep us from the real blessings that God has in store for us.

Jesus was constantly confronting people to let go and move forward. In the book of John, chapter five, He addresses a man that had been afflicted with an infirmity for over thirty-eight years. This man had spent most of his time with others that had afflictions at a pool called Bethesda. It was believed that an angel would stir up the pool and the first person to go down into the water would be healed.

When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man told Jesus that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. This could have been true but I wonder if the man really didn’t want to let go of what he had come to know and become comfortable with.

We can all become comfortable and complacent in our present situation, even if it involves emotional or physical abuse. We can become paralyzed by the thoughts of a change in our lives. Too many times, we stay put when just around the corner is a blessing that God has created just for us.

Carl finally got up and walked into the bathroom to see his Frenchie sister curled up in front of the fireplace. Given the warmth of the room, he made his way to another bath mat and laid down and fell into a deep sleep. It was clear that he was glad that he had left the cold spot in the bedroom.IMG_4343

I couldn’t help but think about the many times, that I have forfeited the blessings for staying put in the cold spots of my life. Thank you God for the reminders of your presence that come through my little dog.

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.

 

Closer to the Storm

A lot can happen in 48 hours. The clouds have gotten heavy and the winds have started to blow. Instead of being alone though, Carl now has four other dogs and a cat to keep him company. Four children are making our house their home, and my son in law and his mother are hunkering down to ride out the hurricane.IMG_4192

Carl seems happy to have so much attention and is enjoying this time without a clue of the reason for the onslaught of humans and canines. The television is on more than usual and everyone is praying that Florence will not create the devastation that the forecasters are calling for.

There must be countless numbers of other families that are feeling the impact of this storm even before it has made landfall. People who are headed west without a clear destination. Others that have settled in with family or friends that ordinarily they would never consider spending a night with.

God is good and good all the time. He is sovereign and even though no one can understand the reason for the devastation that is getting ready to take place, we must put our trust in His will for our lives. I know for me, there are many lessons that I am in the midst of learning. IMG_4168

“Lord, please help all of us, particularly me, to see your goodness through the storms of our lives.”

Transferring the Heart from One to Another- A Good Hug

 

Carl doesn’t hug. He will jump up on my lap and rub against my leg but he doesn’t hug. I never thought about how dogs or any other animal lacks the ability to embrace until the other day.   I must admit I am typically a tentative hugger. Joe and Ellie 7-3

I grew up without many hugs from family members and up until just recently wouldn’t initiate a hug. I had a good friend that challenged me to change how I hugged.  Instead of a weak squeeze with a little pat on the back, she encouraged me to use a strong grasp that let the person know that I cared.

Why did God create us to embrace others? What emotion or unfulfilled need is met with a strong hold by two people? I never gave this much thought until the other day. I had gone to visit a family that lost their young son from an aggressive cancer.

Once I entered the house, the grieving mother approached me with an intense hug. This hug was different.  It was like a need was being met by transferring the heart of one to another. The embrace lasted longer than most and once we separated, I couldn’t help but feel that God had actually created us to hug.

As I thought about hugging, I decided to research in the Bible to see if there was any mention of Jesus hugging others. And to my astonishment, there is not one verse that states that He hugged anyone. One friend stated that He probably didn’t embrace others due to the amount of power that he held.

In Mark 5: 25-34, there is an account of a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. She has been to doctors but her condition has only gotten worse. When she heard about Jesus and how He had been healing others, she made her way through the crowd and reached down and touched the hem of his garment.

“Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

There could be many other reasons why hugging by our savior is not mentioned.  It may not have been the custom or the authors didn’t find a purpose in writing about it. Anyway, I do believe that God did create us to hug each other.

As for Carl, getting him to put his paws in my lap is probably as close as I will get to a real hug. But that is okay.  IMG_4149God has given me enough people to hug and Carl seems to be content with a good pat on the head.

In the Details

Every day, Carl waits patiently for his food.

He doesn’t see the food until I place it in his dish, but even so, he knows it is coming. Every once in a while when I forget to open the huge metal can and scoop a portion for him, he will remind me by bellowing out an ear piercing howl. I sure am hungry. I wonder if I will get some food.

For the most part, it is clear that neither dog spends a lot of time worrying that they will be fed. Even though they don’t see the food or know where it comes from, they live their lives without fear of going without being fed.

I wish I could say the same about me.  Even though I have lived a life of having food in the refrigerator and enough money to meet my needs, I can’t help but check my bank account every once in a while to know that all is well.

How often do we miss out on seeing the hand of God work in our lives because of the abundance from our own hands? As much as it scares us to experience hardship, isn’t in these times that God shows up?

Elijah was a prophet that was able to see the hand of God work in a powerful way. He had nothing and to make matters worse, he was called by God to tell the evil Israelite king that there would be a drought that would last for over three years.

As the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years, everyone blamed Elijah for the drought and wanted him dead.  But Elijah trusted God and obeyed Him when he was told to go to a Gentile country and find a widow waiting by a gate.

It’s hard to imagine what Elijah was thinking as he walked over a hundred miles over the scorched land with no sign of food or water. And as he put one foot in front of the other, he must have wondered why God would be sending him to a widow.

Why not send him to a wealthy king or a place that hadn’t been effected by the drought? Isn’t this what we think God should do for us when we feel like we are at our own dead end?  Aren’t we expecting our blessings to be in the form of abundance?

Though it must have made no sense, Elijah obeyed God and found the woman at the gate. And because of his obedience, Elijah and the widow experienced a miracle each day when just enough oil and flour could be found to meet their needs.

We have a lot to learn from this man as well as from my dog Carl. Elijah was willing to head in a direction that made no sense but he did as God called him to do. Carl doesn’t understand where his next meal will come from but he doesn’t spend his time on this earth worrying about it. IMG_4016

Maybe when we are faced with a situation that looks bleak and has no apparent resolution, we can search for God in the details. And as we look with faith, don’t be surprised by the miracles that will be found along the way.