Society is a mess right now. There is a lot of fear. Fear for the future, fear for our families, fear against our fellow man. I have a couple stories.
I have a Rottweiler named Ripley. He is my baby boy and I’m obsessed with him. The last two years have been hard for me when it comes to Ripley. I thought he had a major personality flaw. Ripley is territorial of our house, Natalia, and mostly me. He follows me from room to room, puts his head on my lap when I go to the bathroom, and does his “big boy bark” when I am in the carpool line. He doesn’t like Natalia’s school administrators. It doesn’t matter that everybody’s body language is happy and non-threatening. He’s not having it.
We took him to doggy boot camp and he is one of the best-trained territorial Rottweilers ever. I have buzzed his “attention” collar to correct his “big boy bark” when we are in the carpool line, or when people walk too close to the house, to no avail. Before we knew the extent of Ripley’s territorial feelings, we allowed him to roam the house when Natalia’s friends were over. That stopped when he bit one of her friends on the pinkie. He didn’t break the skin, but he got her. It scared everyone and I was devastated. A misguided parent called Animal Control to investigate our “jerk-face” dog, and I am so glad that happened. I gained insight that I never would have if she and I hadn’t sat down and talked.
She (Animal Control Officer) told me that Ripley isn’t a vicious dog, nor is he a bad dog. He is doing what is in his nature and this cannot be “trained” out of him. He loves hisfamily more than anything and when we are in our house, he is guarding us. It is his purpose. All Rottweilers inherently do this, some stronger than others. The force is strong with Ripley. This is why we can take him to the dog park or hiking and he will run up to people for his head to be scratched and even sat in a lady’s lap the other week. He was off duty. The problem wasn’t with Ripley, the problem was with my perspective, lack of understanding, and need for control.
Let’s talk about God. I’m going to give you God from Jeremy’s perspective to the best of my understanding from our conversations. Jeremy’s big turning point toward “no God-ness” was Sandy Hook. That horrific day when the children were taken by gunfire by the hands other hate-filled children. He asked me “How could a God who has total power do that?” At the time I didn’t have an answer for him. I guess I still don’t. I have my own insight though, and I want to share it because there is so much hate being plastered on the media.
As Chip Ingram would say: God is not a vending machine. Let that sink in for a second. You don’t get to follow rules, pray certain prayers, go to a revival or two, hang out with other Christians, and in response have a god that spits out blessings. The best friends you have in your life want nothing from you. If you say “no”, they are okay with that. They respect you. They understand that “no” is a complete sentence and you don’t always need to explain why. God deserves that kind of friendship from you. He has asked to be your family, not your pansy to fulfill every whim. Satan can do that. Money? Satan has your number. Sex? Satan knows what rings your bell. Relationships? Sorry, Satan can’t help you there, but he’ll give you some people to hang out with that will spend your money and have sex with you.
I was so mad at Ripley for biting that little girl. How could my well-trained, good dog do something so bad? Because it was in his nature. How can good people do things like murder other humans, molest their children, gossip, lie to each other? Because it is in our nature. Eve was the first to demonstrate the pull sin has in our minds. That’s where the real battle takes place. Call it a conscience, call it a moral choice; it’s still a power struggle between your ears. The apostle Paul talked about being purposeful with the thoughts you allow because they have the power to take over your life (2 Corinth: 10:1-18). The struggle may just look like me versus the plate of nachos, but it is really about me eating my stress and needing to deal with my troubles. I know you can relate. I’ve watched a friend slowly slide into anorexia that totally took over her life. It wasn’t a battle between her and her food. It was a struggle in her mind. I struggle with depression that effects every aspect of my life and relationships. The war isn’t against the outside situations in my life. It is the inner conversation that I need to control before it washes me away.
Let’s go back to God’s nature. First, if you really want to get an impression of who God is, read the Old Testament. I thought it would be boring (the book of Chronicles is boring), but it’s actually kind of funny. The Israelites were a bunch of orgy loving, naughty children. What it shows is that God is REALLY patient. And consistent. People are bad, not God. People shoot other people, not God. God created perfection, man (given freedom from the beginning) chose rebellion and sin. We are still choosing that today. We want to do things OUR way, on our terms. We want God to bless us according to OUR wants, not what God would have planned for us. Oh no! That would be too scary and not enough control. Like, what if God wants me to be a South American missionary?! I don’t do well in the heat. I want God to bless me in the comfortable way that I choose. Me, me, me. I, I, I. God, make the world act according to MY view of perfection. Actually, God, just move over because I think I would be a better god than you. Satan tried that. It didn’t work out to well for him and he was sent here. To earth. As punishment. Let that settle in when you wonder why our world isn’t “perfect”. This is the celestial “penalty box” right now. Thank God for the blessings you DO have.
We can’t blame God for our rebellious nature that brings perpetual brokenness into the world. Sin is not God’s nature. Perfection is not ours. Grace brings it all together, and boydo we need it. If you don’t believe in God because people do horrific things to each other, then I feel so sad for your broken heart. I’m not saying that in a southern “bless your heart” kind of way. My husband lives with a broken heart; therefore, my heart breaks for him. Jeremy doesn’t understand how God could “allow” the bad things to happen to innocent people, but it isn’t God’s fault. It is our fault. We have to own our humanity and be humble in front of our Creator. Your belief (or lack thereof) in Him doesn’t change who He is any more than my belief Ripley would have the friendly mind of a Golden Retriever once he was trained. It just isn’t him.
These blogs aren’t to “preach” at you. I really do love you friends. These are messages to Natalia because she will continue to live in a broken world. Her faith will be tested, shaken, and pulled taut. I want her to look at this and know that I understand, but hold tight. Of course we all feel uncomfortable in this world. You weren’t created to stop here. We all know this deep inside us. We were created for something else. God passionately loves you like the perfect parent loves their child. When Christians talk about Heaven and “going home”, we aren’t being macabre. We just know that the blanket of sin is heavy and temporary. I told Jeremy yesterday that I can’t wait to go to heaven because my body is so heavy and painful. I live in constant, nagging pain that even invades my dreams. It’s so temporary. I will shed this busted-up body and get my new one (I Corinth 15:53). I will finally be true to my intended nature. Who and where I was supposed to be. So will Ripley. He hopefully won’t feel the need to “protect” me anymore and the biting will stop. Everybody knows all dog go to heaven… even the “jerk-face” dogs.