Sunday, July 31, 2016

Being Annoyed



“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”  --Proverbs 12:16

Lexi annoys cats. She doesn’t chase cats, but she can’t leave them alone. If we see a cat while we’re walking, Lexi wants to approach it. She tries to sniff it and greet it. Cats don’t like that. They back away and hunker down under a car or bush. Sometimes they hiss at her. Once a cat batted Lexi on the nose. That surprised her! I sympathize with the cats. No one wants to be annoyed. But when we are annoyed, how do we react? Do we lash out at the person who annoys us? Or can we overlook the irritation, the bother, the nuisance, the offence? I steer Lexi away from cats if I spot one first, but God won’t necessarily steer annoying people away from us. Instead, we have to find a way to cope with the annoyances who cross our path. The wisest cats are accomplished at ignoring things.

Dear God, Teach me to overlook annoyances, irritations, and insults. Amen

Saturday, July 30, 2016

God's Good Eyesight



“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind….” –Psalm 33:13

Until I did some research, I assumed dogs had better eyesight than humans. Dogs do have better nighttime vision, but a human’s ability to discern details is about six times better than a dog’s. Dogs see in color, but colors don’t appear very bright or vivid to them. They can distinguish best between blues and yellows; their daytime vision is similar to a human with red-green color blindness. Sometimes we wonder how good God’s eyesight is. Can’t he see what’s going on? Can’t he see the injustice and violence humanity perpetuates? Of course he can. In fact, his eyesight is even better than ours. God can discern the goodness and hope in every human heart; he can perceive fear that needs reassurance and sorrow that needs comfort. Compared to God, we’re practically blind—unless we let God heal our blindness and soften our hearts (John 12:40). Lexi sees the world as a sort of pale blur; God sees clearly all mankind.

Dear God, Heal my blindness and help me see like you do. Amen

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Relapse



“Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”  --Luke 8:13

Lexi has learned to walk with me (mostly). When my son walks with us, however, Lexi seems to forget everything she knew. She ignores commands, lunges at strangers, and barks at other dogs again. The new factor in the equation—my son—causes her to relapse. She has to re-learn how to walk with him. New circumstances or new challenges can cause us to relapse when we walk in faith. We seem to forget what we knew. We fall away from God’s Word. Then we have to re-learn how to walk with him. I’m disappointed with Lexi because her training wasn’t more deeply rooted. Maybe we’re disappointed with ourselves because our devotion wasn’t more deeply rooted. Yet even Jesus’s disciples fell away (Mark 14:27). They resumed their walk with him on the road to Emmaus, and we, too, can get back on track. Maybe, as the saying goes, old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but they can remember what they knew about trust and obedience.

Dear God, When new circumstances cause me to relapse or fall away, teach me again how to walk with you. Amen

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bee Stung



They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down.” –Psalm 118:12

I heard once about a dog who got stung by a bee and went into anaphylactic shock, just like a human with a severe allergy. I got worried that Lexi could be allergic to bee stings. Then one day she stuck her nose into a flight of bees swarming around a scrap of food. She batted at the bees but couldn’t drive them off. She got stung right under the eye. It puffed up a little, but she didn’t seem bothered. And the swelling went down after a few hours. Whew. The psalmist describes his enemies “swarming around [him] like bees.” I myself am pestered by few enemies but multiple anxieties, like whether or not Lexi is allergic to bees, what I would do if she got stung, what I would say to my kids if she died. My anxieties—about Lexi and everything else—hum around me. Lexi tried batting the bees away, but they continued hovering around her head. I can’t bat my anxieties away, either. The psalmist had faith in the Lord, and his enemies were “consumed as quickly as burning thorns.” We can only annihilate what troubles us when we trust in God. Our anxieties don’t have to sting us.

Dear God, When my anxieties hum around me like bees, help me annihilate them by trusting you. Amen

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Doing



“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”  --Psalm 55:8

Lexi doesn’t always do what I say, even when I know she’s listening. She perks up her ears and turns toward my voice—and decides to do her own thing. Anyone who’s ever said a prayer knows that God doesn’t always do what we ask. We know he’s listening—but he decides to do things his own way. It’s frustrating sometimes. Although God warns us that our ways are not his ways, it can be for us to understand what he’s up to. It’s hard for us to understand why he doesn’t do what we ask. After all, we only ask for what we believe is best. This is why prayer is an act of faith: we have to trust that God’s way is better than the best we can imagine, even when the outcome is disappointing or heartbreaking. Lexi doesn’t always do what I say, but she’s still walking with me. God doesn’t always do what we ask, but he’s still walking with us.

Dear God, Teach me to trust that your way—not my way—is best. Amen