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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David
with her face to the ground.”(1 Samuel 25:23)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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)
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.
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
continued to beat against the window pane as Carl looked up from his bed, and
then rolled over. It was clear he had no intention of jumping off, and making
his way outside to do his business.
For the last
couple of weeks, the rain has come in waves, turning our backyard into a pond.
Carl has tried to avoid getting wet, but even with his efforts, it is
impossible to miss his muddy paw prints scattered across the wood floors.
Carl, at times we leave muddy footprints across the floors of life. They can
come from making rash decisions or stating harsh words in the middle of our own
life will bring days of squalls and dark clouds, we must prepare ourselves
before their arrival. And who best to emulate
than Jesus, the creator of the storms.
squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said
to him, ‘“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”’ He got up, rebuked the wind
and said to the waves, ‘“Quiet! Be still!”’ Then the wind died down and it was
completely calm.” (Mark 4:37-39)
have questioned how Jesus could sleep during this horrendous storm when all his
disciples were scared to death. Just like these men, we often wonder where
Jesus is when we go through storms. And when we can’t find Him, we have a
tendency to react out of fear.
I have found that if I focus on what Jesus did during this storm, I will not be consumed with fear but faith. In order to sleep, Jesus must have known the outcome of the storm, and then once He was awoken, He demonstrated His power by calming the wind and waves.
points me to Jesus when I am in the middle of heavy rainstorms. When it doesn’t
look like it will ever stop and the sun is missing from the sky, I visualize
Jesus sleeping in the stern of the boat.
continued to sleep until the rain subsided and he could go outside without getting
drenched. We appreciated his attempt to stay dry but had to laugh as he walked
across the wooden floors and left a trail of wet paw prints.
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.
slowed to a stop and the man rolled his window down. Not sure what he was going to say, both my
husband and I leaned in. “I just want you to know that you have a good looking
dog.” As we thanked him, we couldn’t help but say back in jest, “You can have
him, if you want.” (We were just kidding!)
I have also
seen Carl from a distance and have to agree that he sure is cute and desirable.
But what Carl is from a distance and what he is up, close and personable are
totally two different things.
What is it
about us humans that cause us to crave the things that are at a distance? So
often, we feel the need to have the very thing that can cause us such
Samaritan woman wanted was to have a husband that loved her and she ended up
with five broken marriages and a compromised life. The rich young ruler only
wanted his wealth and ended up lacking the peace that comes from putting God
clearly tells us in John 6:36 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me
will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
If we can only
stop looking in the distance for the bread of life and turn to the source, we
will finally be content and full.
can’t imagine life without Carl. Even
though it has been difficult at times, I am thankful God has used this little
dog to help me draw closer to Him so that I don’t have to continue to desire
what is at a distance.