Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Restraint and Why We Dislike It

What is the feeling you have when you see this little guy?  Pity?  Sadness?

You're probably not feeling relief or contentment.

Here, little Luigi is being "restrained" from running free.  That seems bad, right?  But if we think of him as being restrained from the dangers of running loose, it is a good thing.

Luigi is in the kennel so he's cared for, not so he can run the streets while his owner is gone.

The dictionary defines restraint as "a way of limiting, controlling, or stopping something."  Boo!  Who wants to be limited, controlled or stopped?  Not us!  We want to do what we wish, listen to our feelings, follow our bliss.

The dictionary also defines restraint as "the act of holding something back."  Hmmm.....

If we believe in an All-Poweful God, that means God can intervene in areas that are dangerous.  Yet tragedies happen.  But what if God is restraining His own behavior in order that we experience something deeper.  Maybe our physical and mental well being will be threatened, harmed or damaged, but our spiritual health will be enhanced.  Maybe that cage we think we're in is for our own safety.

Maybe things aren't always as they appear. 

When dogs come to the kennel, I give them the benefit of the doubt that they are a Good Dog until proven otherwise.  While that's not always as easy with people, it's a good rule of thumb.  While I've had my share of unwelcome events in my life, I can say that ultimately they led to an uncomfortable and even painful stretching of my faith.  What we have on earth isn't forever, but what we can't see is. 

If we believe in an All-Loving God, we can imagine that Jesus longs to swoop in and spare us pain.  He shows restraint when something bigger is at work.  If God holds something back from us now, it is only because it is for Our Good and His Glory.  It isn't always fun and it isn't always easy.  But, it's always good.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Misplaced Devotion

Last Saturday, a friend of mine noticed a dog at the end of her rather long driveway, hanging out by the road.  The dog won't let her get near him.  She's given him food and water, contacted the local animal control, and still the dog stays at the end of the driveway.  It is classic dumped-dog behavior.  The dog is foregoing the minimal amount of food in favor of waiting for his owner to return. 

Five days he's waiting.  Five days he's ignoring someone who wants very much to care for the dog and get him to safety.  But he can't stop focusing on what is no more despite a much rosier future.

Aren't we often like this?  Personally, I'm sort of a master at staring at the door slammed shut in my face rather than the window open right by me, from where fragrant winds blow (or today, hurricane force gales). 

Too often we approach God with a clenched fist, unable to open our empty palm and let the God of love fill it with the good gifts He longs to share.

The dog doesn't know what's coming, which is a chilling cold front.  My friend does, and is eager to get him to safety.  But the dog refuses, longing for the love of the owner that undoubtedly has rejected him forever.

It's painful to imagine this dog's misplaced devotion.  It's sad what the dog is missing from what my wonderful friend has in store for him, which is Hope and a Future.  Instead, the dog paces, runs away, and looks at the empty, dirty road.  He has settled for a poor definition of love.

Sometimes we think our idea of what God is like is better than who God really is.  We have an idea of what our good gifts should be, and how our future should look.  But we don't know the Cold Front is coming and our God does.  We don't know that we're looking at a lonely and dirty road, when a street of gold could be our destiny.

Today I hope the dog chooses safety.  Today I hope I remember to unclench my fist.  Today I hope you choose to turn to the One who longs to hold you in the palm of His hand.

May none of us settle for a poor definition of love.