I walked in
the door after being away for a day and Carl was there to jump up and welcome
me. I admit that I love the unsolicited encouragement that both he and Bee
lavish upon me, no matter how long I have been away.
Dogs are so
wonderful when it comes to demonstrating their unconditional love for us
humans. Particularly when we don’t
deserve it. They don’t keep a record of wrongs.
All they want is to receive a little attention and stroking of the fur
and they’re good to go.
encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that
none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
Wow, if we
could take a lesson from our four legged friends, everyone would be in such a
better place. If every day, we could
encourage (pour courage) into the ones that are closest to us, what a better
world we would live in.
Carl and I
are very different when it comes to walks. Our little dog absolutely loves to
go out into the world and stroll down any path or road near our house. It doesn’t
matter how long he and my husband go or even what the temperature is. Just call Carl’s name and follow it with the
word, “walk” and we have a happy dog.
Now for me,
I will join Carl and my husband on a regular basis but it isn’t something I
really enjoy. I find walking a little on the boring side and choose other kinds
of exercise to accomplish my fitness goals. I particularly don’t like going when
I am not sure of the final destination.
This is why
when I think about the amount of walking the disciples of Jesus did, I become
amazed. There is one particular walk that blows my mind when I consider how far
they went without having a clue of the purpose of their journey.
It is a
story that is easily overlooked and most people don’t even consider the
circumstances surrounding the walk. It begins with Jesus being bombarded by a bunch
of religious leaders trying their best to prove that He is a farce. His disciples are beginning to wonder about
who Jesus is and so instead of trying to convince them with words, Jesus plans
a field trip.
start walking. I am sure the disciples were like most children we know and
asked Jesus countless times if they were close to their destination. Given how
I felt yesterday when walking four miles, I can’t imagine how they were feeling
after two days of trodding down a sandy path in the middle of nowhere.
days, they finally come to a small town near Sidon which is between fifty and
sixty miles from where they began. The disciples must have been a little cranky
as they waited for some incredible miracle to happen. But all they saw were
Gentiles that looked at them like they were scum off the bottom of their shoes.
anything worth coming this long way was probably causing these men to become
frustrated. To top it off, a woman’s persistent scream for Jesus could be heard
over the crowd without any signs of stopping. As the woman drew closer, the
disciples began to become extremely annoyed.
disciples were probably getting a little aggravated with Jesus. The woman
wouldn’t be quiet and Jesus acted like He didn’t hear her. Even after several
disciples tried to get her to be quiet, she continued. They then turned to
Jesus, but He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in addressing the woman.
woman makes her way to Jesus and kneels down in front of Him and calls out,
“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon possessed and is
makes a statement that most people would have thought would be insulting. He
replied, “It is not right to take the children’s food and toss it to the dogs.”
responded, “Yes it is Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the
looked down with incredible compassion and stated, “Woman, you have great
faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 25:25-28)
So why did
Jesus and his disciples walk so far into Gentile territory? There is no other miracles recorded here.
There is no interaction with important people or famous landmarks. Why would Jesus take at least ten days out of
his busy schedule to travel so far?
only one answer. To celebrate the faith of this one Gentile woman. This woman’s
declaration of who Jesus was demonstrated a stronger faith than any of his
disciples had shown since Jesus started his ministry. And Jesus wanted his
disciples to witness it first-hand.
future while I take my walks, I will spend some time contemplating the distance
these men covered. But what I will remember the most is how Jesus was willing
to take the time out of his busy schedule to seek out this woman of faith and
the miracle she received.
think Carl thinks a lot when he is going on his walks. But even so, I can learn
from his walking attitude and try and seek out the miracles that maybe right in
front of me.
been challenged that much in life. Every day, he has a similar routine that
begins with a walk, lunch, sleeping in the sun, dinner, and then finding a good
spot to spend the night. Every once in a while, his routine is broken up but
nothing to get his panties tied in a knot about.
Most of us
would initially say that we would love to have a life like Carl’s. Just
drifting from one fun thing to the next without giving much thought to anything
but our pleasure and basic needs. Initially, everyone says, “Sign me up!”
went to my second go cart race with my nine year old grandson. He has driven
five races and initially he did extremely well. Since he just started, he began
in a division that didn’t require much skill. He easily came in first or second
place without much effort.
But as most
of you who have played a sport or been involved in developing a skill, there
are different levels that change up the effort and perseverance needed in order
to be successful. So my grandson was now racing among boys his age that had
raced fifty races to his five. They had cars that had been fine tuned to the
race conditions and lots of people supporting them.
My son in
law and his good friend are both mechanics and raced when they were young and
are now getting back into the sport after being away for decades. So as you can
guess, winning wasn’t in the picture. But on the other hand, an unforeseen gift
grandson, and his best friend started the first race with high hopes. Everett
had made a mistake in qualifying and ended up at the end of the pack. He was
extremely upset but pushed through the emotions and went out determined to do
conditions were challenging to say the least. It was over 95 degrees and the
course was hard and slick which made it difficult to stay on the track when
making turns. After about the fifth lap, my attention was deferred from my
grandson to his friend. A car started spinning right in front of him and he had
no choice but to run right into him. From afar, it didn’t look good. And when
the ambulance pulled on the track, my heart started racing. All I could do was start praying.
other grandson and Everett’s friend’s brother running toward me, I pulled them
close to me and comforted them. And then something happened that touched my
heart more than any victory could ever. Eli, my five year old grandson took his
friend’s hand and said, “Let us pray for your brother.” And then he closed his
eyes and asked God to take care of his friend.
forever before finally, Everett’s friend was able to walk off the track on his
own. He was shaken up and had to be closely monitored for the rest of the time
we were there. The paramedic came over to our trailer and double checked on him,
but he was ultimately okay.
raced his last race without his friend. He got out there and did the best job
he could, spinning out several times, but just like the ready ever battery
bunny, Everett pulled back into the race and finished last.
But to me, Everett
and Eli finished first. First in character and integrity. First in reaching out
to God, when so many children would have become angry and self-absorbed. First
where it truly matters in life. In my mind, this is what Jesus meant in Matthew
20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
As for Carl,
I believe he has a great dog life. But as for me, I want to be more like my grandson,
who was willing to be put in a situation that challenged more than just his driving
skills, but also his character.
ever has his eyes totally closed when I am nearby. He is constantly on alert for any unusual
movement I make. I think Carl wants to
make sure he doesn’t miss out on anything fun or entertaining.
No matter if
he is in his bed, on the couch, or lying down on the screen porch, his eyes are
looking in all directions for any detection of movement. When I need to go
outside without Carl, I usually have to tippy toe past him and open the door
without making a sound.
If I am
caught, Carl will slither through the door beside me, and wander around outside
until he is placed back inside. This can be aggravating when I am in a hurry or
have a task that doesn’t call for the help of a Frenchie with no tail.
the folly of exploring outside the boundaries of the house. He is unaware of
the dangers of the busy street that borders our yard. He typically won’t go out into the street
unless he spots a dog being walked. Then all bets are off.
Carl, we all have a tendency to folly out beyond the boundaries set before us
by God. Proverbs 15:21 states it simply but profoundly.
“Folly is a
joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.”
How often do
we slither outside and wander where we are not intended to travel? This can
take place in our minds or in our actions. No matter, there are times when we
lack sense and need to return to the straight path.
As for Carl,
he will continue to dart outside every chance he can. And you will find me
taking a hold of his collar and dragging him back to the safety of the screened
Bee is still
healing from her broken leg. There has been some improvement with the bone
mending but recently an infection on her leg has caused us to be concerned. The
cast has been rubbing up against her leg and intensified the infection.
times in our lives that we are broken. It could be from a death, a diagnosis,
or a wrecked relationship. No matter what caused us to be shattered, we usually
have the opportunity to mend and become even better than before.
occasionally, when we are broken, an infection of sin will set in and keep the
healing process from happening. If we are not careful, during these
broken times, the sin of anger or bitterness can seep into our hearts.
plagued with the constant inward thoughts we become stuck behind a wall built
by all the why questions. With no
answers and only scabs created by hostility, we can become unable to move on. So
how do we become healed? If we turn to God, our creator, the answer can be
often broken and could have easily been satiated with why questions. But instead of focusing on questions that
would keep him behind the wall, he focused on God.
Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all
who forgives all your sins and heals all your
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the
eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)
Bee’s paw is
finally getting better, but until it is healed, she has to wear a stylish cone
that has to be worn to keep her from licking. Just like my little dog, when sin
seeps in, we can use the cone of God’s word to shield us from aggravating our
It was clear
that Bee was bitter about her situation.
It had been three weeks of hearing the casted paw clunk across the
wooden floor. Bee’s freedom had been compromised and instead of free reign of
going in and out, she had to have her paw wrapped before going out into the
As she dealt
with the uncomfortable cast, her brother, Carl didn’t miss a beat. He pranced right by his sister to go in and
out as he pleased. After weeks of being immobilized, Bee had shown signs of a
deep seated anger that could be clearly seen as she watched her brother run
circles around her.
Moses’s sister knew bitterness. She had lived with it for years as she watched
her brother take center stage. She was fed up with being a supporting actress
so she corralled her brother Aaron into helping her cause. But when she tried
to slander Moses in front of the Israelites, God burned with anger.
finished speaking, Miriam was covered with leprosy from head to toe. Miriam was
banished from the Israelite camp and if it wasn’t for Moses’ plea for her, she
would have died alone. (Numbers 12:1-3)
days, Miriam lived alone in her bitterness. Because of her sin, everything was
put on hold. The people of God were stuck.
what a sour heart does to us? Keeps us
separated and stuck. Unable to move forward in the direction that God wants us
It’s too bad
that Bee doesn’t understand how her feelings towards Carl can only hurt her.
But as I observe her, I can be reminded of the dangers of focusing on the
blessings of others, when God has so many blessings just for me.
season has recently changed from winter to spring, Carl has made his way
outside to frolic among nature. There is not a lot of wildlife for my little
Frenchie to interact with but when a squirrel makes his presence known, Carl is
sure to do his best to chase him up a tree or over the fence.
other Frenchie, has just as much ambition to clear the backyard of unwelcomed
guests as Carl. So one Thursday afternoon when both little pups saw the prey
from afar, a chase began that ended with Bee falling and breaking a bone in her
At first, I
didn’t know if it was broken or just bruised, but after two days of limping and
not putting weight on it, we took her to the vet where the x-ray showed a clear
break. Bee was given a cast and we were given directions to wrap the cast to
keep it from getting wet when she would go outside.
We have an
electric doggy door which Bee has been using for several years. Her collar has an electrical transmitter that
lets the door know that she is near and will automatically open. But since we
are supposed to keep her paw dry, we have taken the collar off to protect her
paw from getting wet.
understand why this door is not responding to her presence. She has begun to
give up on the door but every once in a while, Carl will trigger the door and
Bee will slip through.
have we slipped through a door that wasn’t intended for us? This is why it is
so important to closely monitor the friends we keep. I can remember in my past
the times that I followed someone through a door that God never intended for
12:26 states it perfectly: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully.
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
My past has
been sprinkled with doors that I slipped through because of the desperate need
for acceptance. Times that I didn’t
trust God enough to complete me with people that hungered for His
night, Bee followed Carl out into the backyard without our knowledge. When she
returned, her cast was wet and moldy. And just like her cast will decay, our
hearts will also wane from God if we keep going through the door that is not
intended for us.