If you have read my blog in the past you might have read my posting on Lessons from a Schnauzer. Oh, that little loving pup of ours is in some ways like my prodigal children have been, in that she is used by God to teach me more about Him.
A few years back over Easter weekend, we had an incident that only happens thankfully once in a while. I am always praying against this happening because I am fearful of the consequences. Elsa, is a Schnauzer who is very true to her calling, she loves children and loves to ‘hunt’. Schnauzers were bred to mind the kinder and keep the vermin at bay on the farms. Even when she hears children on the Television or radio she perks right up and would love to join the kid party. As to her inquisitive nature to hunt and chase after ‘vermin’ she would constantly be off to the woods and who knows that we would ever see her again. She even thinks that she should investigate the deer that are always roaming through the property. So in light of her natural calling we are not able to let her run free. If we are out she must be hooked to something to keep her from doing her ‘Schnauzer thing’. It sounds rather cruel but she knows that is the way it is and the leash has just become a part of her life.
Like our own human nature every now and again, Schnauzers, like ourselves need to have a taste of freedom. Elsa’s last fling without the leash came on Easter Sunday as we were getting ready for church. My daughter and I were the last to head out and I asked her where Elsa was and she thought she was possibly downstairs. Knowing that the kids were not in the house I suddenly entertained a thought that I really didn’t want to think about. I went downstairs with a heavy heart knowing that she was nowhere to be found in the house. I hollered up to my daughter and said Elsa must be outside to which she opened the door and promptly tried to coax her back into the house. All to no avail for all the coaxing in the world was not going to ruin this fling with freedom.
By the time I ran up the stairs and grabbed the leash and headed out doors she was springing for the highway leaping like a lamb through the front yard and I imagined hearing her yelling, “I’m free, I’m free…” I began to pray immediately to the Lord beseeching Him to not let her get hit on the road as the cars were coming up and down the hill. Yes, she leaped across the ditch and across the road she went up the neighbor’s driveway. I continued my praying, pleading with the Lord to please keep her safe and direct her homeward. We were all calling for her as I am sure she continued in her little puppy mind, “I’m free, I’m free…”
Then…(thank you Lord!) she turned around and headed back home, darting past my son-in-law heading right to my oldest grandson, Zachary. I said gently, “Grab her and don’t let go!” Which he did and then they came over to me and I promptly took her and put her on her chain by the kennel. She only uses the chain and kennel when we have to be gone for a short time and have no one to watch her. Or, sometimes just so she can be out and about when it is nice out. Then off to church we headed. I was praising God the entire way to church that He kept her from harm and returned her to home.
Well naturally my immediate application was to see this episode as how a loving God gives us loving boundaries for our good. For Elsa it is the leash and for us it is in the Word. For a long time I resisted some of God’s boundaries because I wanted to maintain my “freedom.” I realize now that I make enough mistakes as it is without thumbing my nose at a bunch of rules, regulations and warnings.
There is this sin nature that we wrestle with that is directly contrary to our Christ-like nature. It is a battle that we will wage until we go home to glory. But if we consciously live our life desiring God’s ways instead of ours we will provide less opportunity for the enemy to trip us up. Or in Elsa’s case become a flat, black furry spot on the road!
Paul tells us himself how he too very wrestled with doing what he was not supposed to do in Romans 7:15
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
I am amazed that Paul would openly admit his struggles. And for me it is freeing to know that a man of Paul’s character—although probably not very often—struggled with sin. He understood sin’s character and the impact it leaves behind. (I think we would call that consequences.) Sometimes, we may only struggle with seemingly small issues and the Bible warns us with a blinking yellow light like the following verse:
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled:“Bad company corrupts good character.”
And search the word fool to see the many places you will find this in the Word. Like in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 that says only fools say there is no God; Proverbs 1:7 says that fools despise wisdom, and discipline; Proverbs 1:22 says that fools hate knowledge! I could go on and on for there is much for us to learn about fools and foolish behavior. (Actually Proverbs is based on the contrast of the wise man and the foolish!) It is sometimes these grey areas that are not terribly obvious that can be used to trip us up and lead us astray. All for the sake of “freedom”, freedom to choose what I will and will not allow myself to get into.
I know that for years I have struggled with thinking I know best what is and is not good for me. It is just crazy how a little time here or there can leave a lasting impression on us when we spend time where we probably shouldn’t.
In this book called the Bible, there is a wealth of practical wisdom that God Himself has given to keep us safe and to warn us about old behavior patterns. Why? Because in His lovingkindness He wants what is best for us. He wants us to be safe and continue to grow more and more into Christ’s image. It is inevitable that there will come times when we succumb to old patterns or we may take a risk and do something that could put us in immediate danger, not heeded the warnings from our loving Father. We will suffer the consequences from blatant disobedience and hopefully we repent and say, “whew, I am glad I didn’t continue down that pathway.”
So whether it is not ‘completely’ telling the truth, a little flirtation with the opposite sex, watching that thing on the television that stirs old feelings inside of us or reading the same, all of these little blinking yellow lights are flashing when we enter into the danger zones of life. But, there is something that we can do to heed the warning signs. For me it is the check in my spirit telling me that I shouldn’t go there. I acknowledge the danger sign, back out, and praise God for His Holy Spirit that protects us, in essence, from ourselves teaching us how to take every thought captive and crucify our sinful nature. Freedom is wonderful but not freedom that bites back or is only fleeting!
Father, my sweet little girl could have been a spot on the highway in her quest to run to places she had never been before. I confess my desires can be much the same. I ask forgiveness for ignoring Your loving boundaries that are in place for my good. I know those earthly desires that can sometimes screams at me to just give it up for a season of ‘fun and freedom’ but I have done this enough to know how easily I can get trapped and caught up. I am grateful for your Word to me in Corinthians that says that “No temptation has overtaken [me] but such as is common to man and God is faithful, who will not allow [me] to be tempted beyond what [I] am able. And with that temptation will also provide the way of escape also, that [I] may able to endure it.” If we go out a bit too far You provide a way for us to escape. Help me to be listening and willing. Thank you Pappa for Your amazing love that only wants the very best for those You love! Amen.
If you happen to think you have things figured out enough in your life and that you and God are on the same page but for some reason you keep going round the mountain, give me a moment of your time to tell you my story.
I went through this huge test–simply put–because I always think I know what’s best for me! However, that can come with some troubles, and I am ashamed to admit it, because surely by now I should know better (not fun to admit I’m am a slow learner.) But I am going to risk some vulnerability because I have a feeling that I am not alone! Maybe you have a decision you are getting ready to make that could change the direction of your life. It could involve a serious relationship, a financial investment or job opportunity. Whatever it is let me urge you to read this somewhat humorous lesson and ponder its implications before you cautiously proceed.
Determination! That’s me ever since I can remember. I have always been and still am a very investigative sort. Yes, that can be a great attribute when channeled in the ‘right’ direction. How else would we ever know that there are (for example) planets that are part of a ‘solar system’ and that we (planet Earth) belong to one of them? Unfortunately, in my life it has become a stronghold that has gotten me into lots of trouble and this spirit of independence has plagued me even as a more ‘mature’ Christian. You see when I get something in my mind, I am not easily deterred. One might just reason it away saying I lack common sense at times. But what I really need to have is a plan before taking action and remember how vital it is to have a witness of agreement with two or more to help discern whether or not I am really hearing from God.
You would certainly think that a few hard lessons would reign in this young lass who stepped out into some pretty bizarre situations. Like running away from home at 13 and again at 15 (not to return.) My younger years were strange years and I grew up rather quickly. Yes, I was rather impulsive.
Gratefully, I became a Christian at the age of 30 and God began His deep work in me as I have learned to surrender the many areas of my will with its baggage and consequences (and the deep pain in my heart) to the Lord. I am learning that as it says in John 15:5 “I am the vine, You are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” And this is where I want to begin, now that you have some background.
Let me begin by honestly saying that I really am beginning to like who God is creating me to be. “Lord, please keep me teachable so I don’t quit growing!” I also add that there is a whole lot of refining to be done. As with all of us, I am in process and will be until Christ calls me home. So most of the time I really do appreciate what God is teaching me and doing in my life. Now here’s where I will reveal one of my strongholds to you–I still like to call the shots and think I know what is best for me. I forget Whose I am and Who knows best!
My husband and I now have a this dog who was a darling little puppy that I totally obsessed over until I got her. You see, after having to put down our sweet old “Chelsey” dog of 13 some years ago, and then putting down our inherited Sheltie (acquired from Jerry’s dad when he went home,) it was then time to get what I wanted and thought would be best for us to have. I have wanted a Schnauzer for a long time! So for two months after the Sheltie was gone I searched online high and low and researching as I went, for our Schnauzer. They are great dogs, smart, sturdy, healthy and cut too! My husband decided that he didn’t want any more pets (we also have a Siamese cat) insisting that when these were gone there would be no more. Yours truly persisted to convince him that we really should “try one on for size” assuming that he would just fall in love with her. I did pray about it, a lot. But let me confess, I did not wait on the Lord and like I always do, took matters into my own hands. Yes, Kimberly knows best. In July we acquired our first standard Schnauzer. A scrawny 3.5 month-old black female from Canada (Manitoba to be exact.) I even had her name all picked out before hand, Elsa, a good German name for a good German dog, and it means ‘God is my oath’.
So you ask “What’s the point?” Let me tell you how God has and continues to use this little dog to teach me some stuff! I have learned some vital stats about ‘Kimberly’, like don’t make me wait and don’t tell me no! And I have had to pay the price for my resistance to learn. Old Frank Sinatra may have sung the song but I keep living it out, ‘doing it my way’.
She is pretty cute don’t you think?
Our little Elsa is a smart little Fraulein and she really learns quickly the fun things. But…there is a very stubborn and determined side to her and as smart as she is she came with a few issues.
Coming off the farm, everything about city living scares her. (I should have named her Skiddles and when she first came through the door of the house, the cat greeted us as she always does and little Elsa freaked and poop literally went everywhere!)
She had a horrible case of round worm–yuck–that we had to deal with including diarrhea issues for several months and that was no pleasure to clean up! (Two doses of medicine took care of that and we were good to go although the vet blamed the kennel rearing–how would I know?)
We got her at 3.5 months which gave her head start in nurturing her strong will not to mention that the housebreaking took forever (we finally made headway at 7.5 months and they are supposed to be EASY to train!)
This little dog has a strong will that runs competitive with mine.
Argh–what have I done? Now I haven’t painted a very nice picture have I. So please, don’t get me wrong, she has her delightful moments and can be a lot of fun. It is just that there are a few hurdles we are going to have to jump through before it is all said and done.
So what’s all the fuss anyway? First of all, I forgot the time involved with a puppy. For a time and a season I have had to give up some pretty precious time that God and I spend together. I must say that that has been the biggest adjustment for me. Especially our first three months together. I have missed my time to write, read and study or do the little extra things around the house and I so look forward to once again being able to have time back. My mornings and evenings have involved puppy sitting while I try to read my Bible in between disciplining her for snatching the newspaper or pillow when I’m not looking. I know, this is all very typical puppy stuff.
I am also concerned that I am getting old and cranky! A few frustrating times of training–the experts always say don’t push it if you’re frustrated–have given way to some harsh reactions on my part. I hate that! And have had to cry out to God for forgiveness and mercy for being so harsh. I don’t want to ruin her sweet spirit and cause her to be afraid of me. That has been very hard for me to deal with. Who wants to think of themselves as a harsh disciplinarian? Firm and loving, that is the way.
As I conclude this I have realized that things are definitely getting better. (As she learns and I learn.) But for a time I thought what have I done, and am I going to regret once again demanding my own way and going ahead of God? The thoughts have come and goneregarding what we could have had if I had waited for God’s best. Like when the vet says his Schnauzer was house broken in short of two weeks at under two months old! Or will she ever get that “stay” is for her good and so is “come”. With all the deer in our yard I wonder what would happen to her the day she decides while off the leash, to chase one. Will I ever see her again? I know by heart the verses in Proverbs 3:5,6 that say,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
But I forget the rest of the story when I read verse :7
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.”
Ouch, the Proverbs can really make the tough calls! Old Solomon was in tune to his maker! So when will Kimberly realize that God, Abba, knows what’s best for His girl and that it is so much better to wait than to regret? His best is always for our best even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time or that is is just taking too long?
I pray that as God has redeemed the jump-start girl once again He alone can bring beauty from ashes. Our Elsa is learning and is now grown up. She has matured into a tremendous companion to me and my husband. The ride is slowing just a bit and as you can see I even have some time to do a bit of writing these days, yeah!
Well, if you can identify with my plight, let’s pray and ask God to give us what is ultimately His very best and nothing less and the courage and patience to wait on the Lord. Let’s pray
Pappa, once again I jumped ahead of You and You have gently reminded me that Father knows best! I really do want to give You my strong will and I also want to give You that part of me that thinks I know what is best for me. You know how impatient I can be when I don’t get my way. Just let me learn this time as I surrender. Thank you for your word in Isaiah 40:31 that says we really do gain great strength from waiting upon You. Mounting up with wings like eagles, running and not becoming weary and walking without fainting. What a promise awaits those who are willing to hold on for Your best. I want that and I am so tired of the learning curve as I traipse around the mountain again and again in this area. Please deliver me and give me the courage to stand fast as I wait on You, in Your powerful Name, Amen!
Now, I would do the camping thing, but unless it was around a lovely lake that is not heavily populated, I would just as soon not go camping. And I love to see God’s handiwork when I am out in the woods. Wild flowers and their pungent smells and the bonus of seeing wildlife thoroughly make my day. For instance, I saw my first Sandhill cranes this year as they nested in or near a neighbor’s field – noisy guys and fun to observe. I hear they are making a comeback and can now be hunted in some areas of Minnesota-not that I would do that!
Every now and again Elsa (my Schnauzer) and I get to see something that she thinks would make great chase material. But, if the truth be told, she tends to be a bit schizoid and has the natural tendency to chase, although she is scared to bits of any loud noises or sudden moves. Skittles would have been a more accurate description of her personality, but I wanted her to have a good German name since she is a good German dog.
One morning Elsa and I headed out for our walk through our property to a snowmobile trail we use every day. We went up the east side of our ravine and she startled a bit when she heard something in the brush. I didn’t think anything of it, as this is common with her. As we neared a large balsam tree, she jumped, landing into my legs. As I glanced back, I saw a small dark thing chasing us. I yipped and ran ahead, then slowed to look back again to see just what was on our heels. Here was a grouse, all fluffed up and out, with her wings making her look as big as she could as she ran after us. She did finally quit and fly off, but I thought, “That crazy bird – if my Elsa weren’t so afraid, she could have taken that grouse down in a heartbeat. (I do walk her on a leash, however, so that she can’t go running off.) The scenario kept playing over and over in my mind and I would laugh out loud every time I would think about the event that had just taken place.
Later that week, I was visiting with a retired DNR guy who stopped in at the radio station and I told him about our experience. He said to me that the grouse would risk her own life for those chicks she was guarding! I thought that must be true because she is pretty small and my little girl being a standard was more than big enough to rip her to smithereens! The grouse obviously would do anything to distract whatever was threatening her brood. (I wish I could have seen those cute little chicks, but not at the expense of having a mad grouse jumping at me!)
In the book of John, we read a verse from Chapter 15:13 that lets us know just how prized we are to Jesus. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” As I ponder this verse and then look at that familiar John 3:16 that says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” I can see the expanse of the Father’s love for us, His children. I think that most of us as parents would naturally lay down our lives for our children. If they were in danger, we would do what we could to save them, not even thinking about the risk we could be taking. In a tiny little snippet of real life, I saw that picture so clearly illustrated with momma grouse.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vmY2ztb5xc] You might not feel worthy of the Father’s sacrifice, as it was for me at one time, but there will come a time when I trust you will. As we receive the greatest gift ever given, by understanding the greatest sacrifice that was ever made, I believe we should be overwhelmed by the Father’s love that was poured out just for us. The Father gave His Son for you and for me and there is no greater response than to humbly receive it, trusting the rest of our lives into His care!