Tag Archives: God

Void Spaces

Poor Carl.  He has been removed once more. First he was taken from his home where he resides as the king and taken to my daughter’s home for the week we were on vacation. After spending less than two days with her family, he was taken to doggy daycare to finish out his days until our return.

Having the luxury of cameras to give us a clear view of Carl’s actions, we witnessed his removal from the play area after an altercation with another dog. We understood the decision to send him back to his cage, but the thought of him being secluded, hurt our hearts.

Every couple of hours we would turn the app on and seek out our little dog among the others only to see void space where Carl would be. Void space can also be found in our hearts where God should reside.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has put eternity into our hearts. A space where nothing or no one can fill.

Most people strive to fill the space with things, power, or success. They will even try to occupy it with a relationship or two. But no matter how much is crammed in, it just won’t fit. Given a square won’t fit into a circle peg, anything outside of the will of God, will not fit into the space that God has placed in our hearts.

Several hours later, we turned the app on once more to see Carl wondering around the large room among the many dogs. The girl in the room seemed to have her eyes set on him to make sure he behaved. Carl even seemed cautious as he wondered around, making sure that he could stay in this space that once was void.

A Walk For Faith

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.

So they 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.

After four 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.

Not seeing 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.

The 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.

Finally, the 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 suffering terribly.”

Then Jesus 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.”

The woman responded, “Yes it is Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table.”

Then Jesus 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?

There is 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.

In the 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.

I don’t 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.

Carl’s Perception of Truth

Carl has been gone for almost two weeks.  His life hasn’t interceded with ours except through pictures and Facetime. And even though we see him on the screen, he isn’t a part of our present.

My husband and I have been on a cruise to Alaska while Carl has been rotating between staying with our daughter and a pet resort. So it is easy to say that our reality on the cruise ship is very different from our four legged friend.

We have been experiencing average temperatures in the 70s while Carl has been enduring scorching 90 degree temps. Our reality has been sailing across the ocean at about 23 miles an hour looking out over beautiful snowcapped mountains while Carl has been confined to the backyard with four little people to get along with.

In other words, our perception of life has been altered by our circumstances. Neither Carl or my husband and I are living the truth of the life that we are typically bound by. 

So how do we know what truth is when our circumstances have been changed so drastically?  There is only one way.  Only one person who spoke truth regardless of the circumstances. John 14:6 states, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”

Jesus is truth and the barometer in which to compare ourselves by, no matter our present circumstances.  So no matter where we are on this planet, if we know Jesus through His words, we will have the life He planned for us.

Carl may think that this life he is presently living will be his reality for the remainder of his days. He doesn’t know when he will return or if he will. On the other hand, as I write this, I know that tomorrow I will port in Seattle and I will fly across the country to my home in North Carolina where life will return to the reality that I am accustomed to. No matter where Carl and I find ourselves, I know that truth isn’t found in my circumstances or even the place where I reside.

Living Between Faith and Fear

Carl knew that we were leaving.  He just wasn’t sure if he would be included in the departure or would be left. To improve his odds of being allowed to join us, he placed his paws in front of him and took a prayer stance. His body was shaking with fear as he waited patiently to see the outcome of what would take place. Carl was living in the middle of fear and faith.

How often do we reside somewhere between the fear that wants to stop us from acting in faith? Personally, I have to confess that I have allowed fear to dictate too many of the decisions in my life.

Abigail was one woman that stood firm in her faith and brushed the fear that was brewing in her heart to dissipate. When she heard that David was coming to kill off all her family because of her husband’s foolish behavior, she knew she had to act quickly.

So with fear trying to convince her to stop, Abigail chose to act out of faith. Immediately, she packed enough food to feed an army, and rode out into the desert to meet the one who had the power to end her life.

“When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground.”(1 Samuel 25:23)

With humility, Abigail made her case and stopped the demise of her family. If she had chosen the path of fear, the story would have ended very differently. But because she elected to act, God took care of the situation and her family was spared.

Carl ended up coming with us and spent the day playing with other dogs in a pet resort. He met new friends and enjoyed frolicking around with no cares. What could have ended as a lonely day turned into a fun filled excursion.

The Wall of Insecurity

Carl was clearly showing signs of insecurity. He wouldn’t come into the bedroom because of his fear of his sister. After going out into the hall and literally pushing him inside, it was clear our pooch needed support to enter. 

Once inside and on his bed, he was shaking uncontrollably. Carl, who stands only a foot off the ground, typically portrays himself as the size of a great dame on his walks but now had shriveled into the body of a Chihuahua.

How can a dog who one minute appears so confident be transformed into a pile of mush? Before judging this little Frenchie, we should look in the mirror and ask ourselves the same question.

We all have sensitive spots in our personality that cause the wall of insecurity to keep us from going forward. The question arises when we are face to face with the wall and how we are going to get over it. Or in some cases, if we are even going to attempt the climb.

Many of us are forced to make the ascent over our personal insecurity when we are in occupations that require it. Others, make the choice to fight through uncertainty when an important relationship is on the line.

But then there are others that avoid facing their barricade or pretend it doesn’t exist. King David was a perfect example of this. After his son Absalom was killed, the king was paralyzed by his insecurity. Instead of leading his country, he became absorbed with self-doubt and drew inward. The result of his actions had a devastating effect on the country. Without a leader, all the people went back aimlessly to their own tents.

Thankfully, Joab, his right hand man, had the confidence to speak sternly to the king. Then and only then did King David take his position of authority and push through his insecurity. Once he was seated on his throne, the people were willing to come out of their own hiding places and give respect to the king.  (2 Samuel 19)

Carl doesn’t understand how his insecurity impacts us. He doesn’t see the inconvenience of being awakened by his howl and having to get up to move him through his self-doubt. Many people who lack confidence don’t see how their actions hurt the people around them. But just like David, it only takes a decision to take the position that God has given us.

Hopefully in the future, Carl will climb over his personal wall of self-doubt and make his way to his sleeping position that he has been assigned. And just like him, the next time I come face to face with my own wall of insecurity, I will be willing to make the climb upward and over. 

The Last Will Be First

Carl hasn’t 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!”

Yesterday, I 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 was.

Everett, my 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 his best.

Yesterday’s 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.

With my 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.

It seemed 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.

Everett 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.

Small Skirmishes

As we pulled into the campground overlooking the lake, raindrops started spitting at us in all directions. We quickly put up a canopy to keep dry. I tried to coax Carl to come in from the rain but all he did was stare at me as if I was crazy.  He just couldn’t understand that if he came in under the cover, he wouldn’t get wet.

Finally, after a little prompting, Carl came in from the rain while we finished unpacking. After some sniffing and marking his territory, he found a place to lie down and get comfortable. All went well for a couple of minutes until his sister Bee got in his space.  Then Carl had to let Bee know that he was the alpha dog and she needed to fall in line. 

How often do we need to fall in line with what God wants us to do? So often, we can cross over the line and just like Bee, come head to head with an unpleasant experience. Many times, we are caught off guard and don’t even realize what we have done, or how to rectify the situation.

In Judges 4, Barak, the main military leader, was given a specific command by God. He was told to take 10,000 men and go fight the enemy. But he was afraid, and wouldn’t do it unless Deborah, the designated judge of the time, would go with him.

Because he refused, Barak didn’t receive the blessing that God had intended for him. Instead of giving him recognition for leading his men into battle, a woman took the glory for the win. History records that Jael killed Sisera, the enemy’s military leader, which gave the Israelites the victory.

How often do we miss out on the goodness, God has in store for us? All we need to do is simply obey in the little battles of life. God knows that if we can win the small skirmishes, we are more apt to go forth into the big clashes that will come our way.

Carl won the confrontation that he had with Bee. He walked away feeling strong and in charge. Bee on the other hand, didn’t feel totally defeated, and will probably not back down the next time the two act like bullies.

Either way, Carl and Bee’s Frenchie scuffles serve as a good reminder that I need be attentive to the simple acts of obedience that God sends my way. If only I could teach the two of them to obey me..