I am beginning week 4 of my 6 week treatment plan to address my diagnosis of esophagus cancer, and treatments continue to go well with no crippling side effects. I lack energy most days, but have no significant pain or illness to report. I do not enjoy these days, but I cannot speak about them without noting how graciously God is carrying me through them. He is good ALL the time, and perhaps it is most obvious in our toughest days. The significance of your prayers and support cannot be measured. Thank You.
The Bible includes some fantastic stories where God used all kinds of things to verify the genuine faith of his people. Burning bushes, seasons of drought, impossible odds, and even talking animals (Num 22). Somehow I’m ok with those obscure stories, but pause to think that He may use the most common everyday things to challenge me in my own journey. He might even use something as mundane...wait for it...as my dog.
Here’s the deal. In the midst of this season where I struggle to gather much energy from one day to the next, any little victory I can claim is not little. So, when I was able to pull together enough to finish planting a small planter box in our back yard, I was very happy. In a back yard that’s filled with half done projects, this became a sweet spot of celebration. And that’s the totality of what I saw it as - a nice little spot of celebration. Turns out God saw it as an opportunity to use my dog to challenge the veracity and genuine nature of my own preaching.
Short story - Jack destroyed that little garden only days after I finished it. He snapped branches off a small shrub, killed two planted mums, and totally flattened one poor plant. Nobody knows why, including likely, the dog himself. But as I was tempted to loose my temper over his little mindless and pointless efforts, I was suddenly prompted to reflect on some of my most recent preaching about things like patience, goodness and especially self control. What was it again that the preacher said about such things? Man I wish I listened better when I preach.
I defaulted to what I had been convinced of week after week in preaching the fruits of the spirit - that things like exceptional patience, goodness beyond the situation, and self control that will keep both yourself and those around you safer, are all increased by knowing the presence of the spirit. So before I did anything else, I sought to recognize the spirit of God. Was God in this thing? Was there something for Him to say in this moment? Does that make too much of it? Maybe it’s nothing more than an old dog sniffing at new mulch.
Either way, it was a moment for me to stop and seek something from the spirit of God before reacting in a way that would be natural for me…and probably not good for the dog. So that’s what I did. I waited, settled, and sought what God might be using this moment to teach me. Today, the garden is cleaned up, re-planted, now has an added “Jack-prevention” barrier behind it, and the dog is no worse for wear. We talked it through - he knows I am not happy about doing it twice. More importantly, I got a chance to grow a bit too, as simple and silly as it may sound. I was given the opportunity to exercise a greater patience, goodness and self-control than I usually would, and because of the presence of God’s spirit in my life - that’s what I did.
The Spirit PRODUCES such things - I know I’ve heard that somewhere.