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.