It’s been a little more than a week since we moved in with a wonderful family and the boys love the home and its sense of adventure. The other day, a random dog walks into our backyard… The first person to notice is Noah. He calls out to Doug in the next room, “Do you usually have random dogs hang out in your backyard?” As we look out the patio window we see a poor little chihuahua mix with an empty plastic bag of shredded cheese over his head! He must have wandered into the yard because of the bag over his head that was blinding him. We now feel sympathy for this poor dog. Doug and Noah speed up behind him from opposite directions in attempt to grasp the bag off his face, but the dog runs away faster. Then, all of us surrounded the dog into the back corner of the yard. I sprint back into the house to grab a cookie and some lunch meat thinking it might help the dog feel like he could trust us. Then I walk back to Doug who now has drawn closer to the dog. Doug offers the treats to the dog who may not even be able to smell or see a thing since his eyes and nose are covered by a plastic waste bag… This continues for some time, until Doug slowly approaches the dog even closer and quickly yanks the bag off his head. The dog proceeds to bark at us and storms away angrily. The poor dog had no idea what was good for him! Yet, can we at times behave in much the same way?
Sin blinds us and may even grow to feel comfortable despite the fact it makes us walk around in darkness… The Lord loves us so much that he doesn’t merely watch us stumble around in the dark. He might at first very gently and kindly attempt to lead us the right way. However, when we stubbornly buck up against him, he goes to whatever means to rid us of whatever is over our heads covering up our vision of reality as revealed through His Word and Spirit. The Lord is our Good Shepherd that keeps watch over our souls sometimes with a staff or a rod. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 Yeah, we are like dumb sheep. We stumble in darkness and are so prone to wander and leave the one we love for so many other distractions of this world and sins that entangle our heart and affections for him. God loves us too much to let us stay in this blinded state.
Like a like a bag over our heads, sin distorts our view of reality and his hand of protection in our lives—despite how faithful God is over and over to display his wondrous works and care for us. Just Monday, we witnessed an amazing eclipse that tells of his glory and handiwork. Much like an eclipse that hides from sight the sun and leaves us in cold darkness, other things hide our glorious view of the Son—Jesus who did the unthinkable in sacrificing his life for us while we reviled and bucked up against him. When we find ourselves in this great peril, may we not be so content to stay there. May we not shun him when he tries to remove the eclipse of his Son. Worst yet, may we not be angry at God or others for removing sin which proves harmful. This is my earnest prayer, “Lord, give us a love for you that would despise the sin that draws us away from the Son. Thank you that you don’t leave us to our own devices. Thank you that you realize we are but flesh and that you love us even in our weakness and you never give up on us. You graciously woo our hearts. However, may we not presume on your kindness and patience with us.” Also, when we see others with a bag over their head may we not be so quick to judge them, but instead be humble and realize ways we to one degree or another fall to similar plights or have at some point in our lives. Who is to say that we can’t again fall back at any moment…it is only by the mercy and grace of God that we grow in Christ. Nothing of our own doing can save us from the ginormous debt of sin we owe against a holy God. And nothing of our own doing once being saved can then perfect us by our own work of the law.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Galatians 3: 3-6
Times of our weakness are precious in that they bring us to our knees in utter dependence on the awesome high King of heaven yet simultaneously our Father and Friend, through Christ. Without physically seeing a good outcome, by faith in his promises of a glorious future not too far ahead, we draw near to the Lord in the only capacity we can this side of glory–marred by sin while holding an alien righteousness card with Jesus name credited to us. If Jesus poured himself as a love offering, how much more should we as his followers be poured for him. This life is short and there’s much to do for the Kingdom. The enemy wants to hinder every God-glorifying thing we endeavor to accomplish. We can’t fight this battle alone. Now more than ever I realize my dependence on Christ and God’s people. That’s why I covet your prayers!
Our little family does morning devotions together. After we sing hymns and read the Bible we pray based on a verse that stood out to us. Nathan usually doesn’t pray, but lately, he’s wanted to pray! This has been his prayer, “Dear God, I pray that I could talk to my daddy and not miss him. That I would follow Jesus, love him and go to heaven. And that I could play with my cars there. In Jesus name.” Even though our family does devotions early in the day. Mornings and my personal time with the Lord do not consistently jive at this point in my life. I heard an audio message from Elisabeth Elliot where she basically said there no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have devotions in the morning and why it’s better. So I tried hard to make my dates with the Lord in the early mornings. However, my efforts were frustrated. Mornings with a three-year old are just unpredictable right now, given our current circumstances. Then, I realized that I can offer the Lord my evenings too. I understood that as much as I may admire someone like my heroine Elliot, things people say if not directly from the Bible don’t need to be kept to the tee. It’s wise to heed godly advice, but as Protestant Christians, we are solely bound by Scripture. When we treat human tradition or counsel as the Word of God we fall prey to venturing into legalism. God seeks after our heart more than anything and the faith like that of a child.
My evenings with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ have been invaluable in that he’s been giving me the ability to lay my burdens down and give him my tears which I hope cleanses my weary soul. It’s so comforting to know that God collects all my tears in a bottle and records them in his book(Psalm 56:8.) My heart still aches for the earthly loss of my beloved best friend, the state of our broken little family and the emptiness left by our spiritual and physical head missing. I would be utterly devastated if not for Christ being our Head! Yet, I long for heaven now more than ever! While I’m beyond thankful for grandfathers and the godly family we live with; the role of a father and husband in the family is simply irreplaceable. Yet the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalms 34:18.) As we cry out to the Lord for his grace, he provides the comfort that keeps our souls in perfect peace in the middle of the pain, loss, and brokenness. I admit that I don’t have any of this all down. Sometimes it seems like everything is falling apart. So please pray that we’d learn the hard lessons well; and that in some way as you come alongside us, the Lord would bless, teach and grow you too. My prayer is that God be glorified through this blog and much notice would be given to the amazing work Christ does even in the dark nights.
We sang this hymn in Bible study and it encapsulates what God’s laying on my heart…
“I once was lost in darkest night. Yet thought I knew the way. The sin that promised joy and life, had led me to the grave. I had not hope that You would own a rebel to Your will. And if You had not loved me first, I would refuse You still. But as I ran my hell-bound race, Indifference to the cost, You looked upon my helpless state, And led me to the cross. And I beheld God’s love displayed. You suffered in my place, You bore the wrath reserved for me, Now all I know is grace.
Aallelujiah! All I have is Christ! Hallelujiah! Jesus is my Life!
Now Lord I would be your alone. And live so all might see. The strength to follow Your commands, could never come from me. Oh, Father use my ransomed life, In any way You choose, And let my song forever be, My only boast is You.”
6 thoughts on “Lessons from a Stray Dog”
Beautiful heartfelt journaling. Thanks for sharing your heart, Erika. Praying beside you and the boys. Love, Allie Temple
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Thanks so much for keeping up with the blog and for your faithfulness in praying for our little family!! Love and miss you much Alice! 😘❤️
Erika; you never cease to awe me with your insight and wisdom ! God has important work for you to do in the kingdom . I have found on my journey thru life that The toughest trials give us something from Him to share with others . I have never experienced the tremendous loss that you have been thru but ill health has plagued me a great deal in the past years and physical pain can lead to a lot of questions and depression . however , I find that He has given me a heart for others who are suffering and the concern to pray for and keep in touch with them. Right now you are intrusted with the greatest call of all .two gifts from God are in your care as you raise them to be Godly men. You will also be given many opportunities to come along side others who are in need of God,s love in similar circumstances as yours and you will have the necessary words to share .God bless you ,my dear friend
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Thanks so much for your strong encouragement sweet Joy! God is so good to give us trials that bring us to our knees and to gift us with ministry to others that we’d take our eyes off ourselves and our problems. Even though it may not always ‘feel’ like these are gifts or blessings from his hand. The best things in life seem to be the most challenging. Praise God that won’t be the case in heaven! Our work will truly be joyful one day. I’ve got to keep reminding myself this world is not the end, but merely the beginning… lots of love for you!! ❤️❤️❤️
You all saved the little dog! 🐩 thank you for your sweet words of love and faith and devotion to your family and to our Lord Jesus Christ.
The words of that hymn touched my heart, and I shared them with Clarence. Love hugs and prayers, from all of us Bartows
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Thanks for your encouragement Margo!! Yes, after I sang the hymn I was moved to tears… just what my souls needed. Glad it blessed you too! Love you! Xoxo