“Cooper, when I tell you you’re a good dog, I expect you to act like one.”
Cooper was barking loudly, and wildly chasing our mama cat. First, under the trampoline. Next, across the yard, and finally, Kitty scrambled smartly up a tree.
I’d walked up just in time to hear the words come out of my daughter’s mouth and watch Cooper’s shenanigans.
He wasn’t getting the memo.
I think he’d liked getting petted and loved on and told what a good dog he was by his girl owner. He knows her. He loves her. He follows her around. He lays in her lap. He LIKES being a good dog.
He just missed that she’s not just saying he’s a good dog because she likes to hear the words. She also EXPECTS him to LIVE like a good dog should.
I laughed as I heard her words and watched the crazy canine follow his instincts and his “self” and give chase to that oh-so-tempting Kitty. You could see it in his nature and it was beyond his control.
Cooper’s never been to obedience school. He’s never been trained too much. He IS a good dog in many ways, but he’s still part playful pup
“Don’t you think that’s what God thinks sometimes?” I pondered.
“Deborah, when I tell you you’re forgiven, I expect you to believe it.”
“Deborah, when I tell you I love you, I expect you to live loved.”
Deborah, when I give grace, I expect you to soak in it.”
“Deborah, when I prune you to bear fruit, I expect a bountiful harvest.”
“Deborah, when I say I delight in you, I mean it.”
“Deborah, when I sent my Son and He died on the cross and He shed His blood, it was for YOU, and it was ENOUGH.”
“Deborah, I don’t make empty promises. I don’t say these things just because I want to hear them. I say them with intention.”
“Deborah, I created you for good works, so why don’t you LIVE IT?”
Just like Cooper, I like these promises. I believe these promises. I embrace these promises.
Yet, all too often, I get caught in the trap of self.
Just like last year, when my man had a trap set with food over at the farm to hopefully lure in a skunk that was living in our little shed. He kept catching Cooper. Cooper couldn’t resist that food. Not that he wasn’t getting fed, and fed very well, out of his very own dog dish, beside his water dish, at home, in his cozy pen.
Yet, there he’d be sheepishly looking out of the trap, again.
And there I am.
I start believing the lies of the accuser and leaning towards the expectations he sets me up for. He is all about traps and illusions. I can hear him snickering and mocking. He makes me so angry.
I tend to trail after some half-truth or chase after some shallow misperception that has been set especially to ensnare me.
It makes me want to pound my fist on the desk wildly as I sit here and type. I hate those traps. With a passion. I won’t attain perfection, but oh, do I want to. I recently wrote in my prayer journal in large, large letters.
HELP ME LORD. SAVE ME FROM MYSELF.
I get impatient with my people or snap at my husband. I roll my eyes at other people. I step smack in the middle of the trap of self-righteousness and too often, I DON’T EVEN NOTICE. I just drag the trap around by my ankle and act like it’s such a great accessory. I cram myself into the trap of control, so I can feel well, in control. Kinda hard to be in control when you’re crammed into a box trap. And dumb enough to put yourself inside it.
I wrestle with a lot of issues and how to handle them and how to show Christ’s love without patting sin on the back.
Jesus has the answers. And He’s really, really good at rescuing me from traps.
He pulls me out and He whispers grace and goodness and redemption and rescue. He smiles and He holds tight.
He whispers, “When I say you’re mine, I’m not just saying it because I like to hear the words. YOU BELONG TO ME. I made you. I love you. I put you where you are. I have a work for you. And it doesn’t involve chasing cats. Dwell in me and cling to me. You are so loved.”