The Love of God in a Sheep’s Pen

Years ago, I heard a story about life and death on a little sheep ranch in Barstow, California. It’s a wonderful story, albeit bittersweet, and although I have not been able to confirm the facts, I want to share the story with you. Grab a cup of something you love, sit down and enjoy.

Once upon a time, on a sheep ranch in Barstow, little lambs were being born. The ewes were sniffing and nudging and cleaning their newborn lambs, and the lambs were awkwardly getting up on their spindly legs and looking for the milk they could smell on their mama’s warm belly. Funny how babies are born with the innate knowledge of who their mama is and instinctively cling to her and suckle from her. As well, a mama recognizes the scent of her own baby the moment he is born.

Rows of pens, each with a ewe and her newborn, were in a covered barn protecting the sheep from the brutal desert sun and the frosty desert mornings. Day by day the baby lambs were getting stronger and bigger and were almost strong enough to venture outside of their sheltered pens and explore the ranch.

The ranch hands were busy checking each pen and assessing whether or not the mama and baby were ready to go outside when they discovered a ewe loudly crying over the still body of her baby lamb. The ranch hand quickly entered the pen and checked the little lamb for signs of life. Sadly, the baby was dead, and could not be revived. The ewe was frantic with grief and inconsolable. The ranch hand gathered the baby up in his arms and removed him from the grieving mama. Her wailing was non stop, and could be heard throughout the ranch.

Several pens down the row, another ranch hand made a similar sad discovery. In the back of the pen lay a shivering, weak and severely dehydrated baby lamb, snuggled into the now cold belly of his dead mama. The ranch hand removed the body of the poor dead mama, and cradled the orphaned lamb in his arms. He took the baby to the nursery and prepared a bottle for him. The little baby was so weak he was not able to suckle more than a drop or two. The ranch hand put the baby in an incubator to get his temperature up to normal hoping that would help the little lamb to be able to take the bottle. If not, the baby would surely die.

This sheep ranch now had a sickly orphan without a mama; and a grieving mama without a baby. Seemed like a perfect match! They needed each other! A plan was formulated to introduce the two and pray for mother nature to work her magic.

Later in the evening, the grieving mama was placed in a neutral pen, one that did not have the scent of any other sheep or animal. There was fresh water and food. This pen was in the 1st class section of the barn, an upgrade from the maternity ward. After she acclimated a bit to her new pen, a ranch hand came in to the pen with her and sat down. In his arms lay the little orphaned lamb. He was getting weaker by the minute, and would not live much longer if this plan didn’t work.

Every ranch hand on the ranch was gathered near by, but out of sight. Watching silently, waiting hopefully, to see if this would be successful. A match made in heaven! The grieving ewe came over to see the baby and sniff him. She sniffed and nudged him right out of the ranch hand’s arms onto the straw floor of the pen! She was frantically checking and sniffing every inch of that little lamb, rolling his tiny body on the straw bed. She was searching for any sign or scent that would identify him as hers. The ranch hand took his queue from the ewe, and quietly and slowly left the pen, leaving them alone, and joined the rest of the staff out of sight. Like children watching for Santa, the staff watched the mama and orphan, hoping and praying for them to bond.

After what seemed like an eternity, the mama lifted her head from sniffing the baby, turned her back on him and walked away. She resumed her despondent wailing by the gate; wanting out, wanting to be away from this strange baby, wanting to find her baby. Her teats were painfully full of milk, and she wanted to nurse her baby.

The staff and ranch hands were baffled! They had been certain their plan would work! Then one seasoned old hand said this: “She doesn’t recognize him. She doesn’t know his scent. She knows the scent of her baby. She won’t be appeased by any other essence other than the one she shares with her baby.” Then he walked away.

When he came back, he was holding the freshly skinned coat of the sweet little dead lamb. Without a word, the seasoned old ranch hand entered the pen and walked straight to the orphaned baby. He placed the coat of the dead lamb on the back of the orphaned lamb and secured it there. He placed the coat, this precious sacrifice, blood-side down on the orphan’s back. Carefully, he picked up the orphan, now covered in the coat of the dead lamb, and placed him under the grieving mama.

Immediately, the mama recognized the scent of her beloved and sniffed and nudged him to her teat where he latched on and enjoyed the life saving milk from his new mama. The ranch hands celebrated with hugs and silent high fives, then quietly left the barn so the new little family could continue to bond.

What a beautiful picture of atonement. At-one-ment. The reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ. But why, exactly, do we have to be reconciled to God?

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, it resulted in separation of humankind from God. Like the separation of the ewe from her baby.

But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life”. John 3:16

God allowed His son to die on the cross so that we could “atone” or be made “at one” with Him! Jesus’ death on the cross provided for us His essence, the only essence that God recognizes as His own! He loves us so much that He provided the covering for us, He cloaked us with His own essence through the death and resurrection of His only son! He “at one-ed” us with Him! He loves YOU so much that all you have to do is believe in Him and His son, Jesus Christ, and He will recognize you as HIS! He will call you His own child!

“I am the good shepherd: and I know My sheep, and I am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so, I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15

“To all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” 1 John 1:12

There it is. That’s it. That’s the love of God in a sheep’s pen.

DON’T BE THE FLY!

Sitting in the back yard I noticed something very strange. There was a lizard sitting on a piece of dog poop, seemingly sunning himself. I almost didn’t see him there, lounging on the fecal matter. He was very camouflaged and the only reason I noticed him was that he was doing little lizard push-ups while sunning himself. I watched him for awhile and thought about how dumb he was! In a yard full of grass, sand, rocks, walls to climb, trees to lounge in, he chose to place his little body directly on top of a pile of . . . . well, you get the picture. Why? I asked myself, and, I can’t lie, I might have asked him too, why would a lizard choose to perch himself there, in the absolutely worst part of the yard? Then it happened.

A fly was circling the poop and coming in for a landing. The lizard saw the fly and immediately quit his current set of poo-poo-push-ups. Slowly and deliberately, he lowered himself into the poop making himself virtually invisible to the incoming fly.

The fly never saw what hit him! The lizard’s tongue appeared out of nowhere and snatched the fly right out of the air just inches from his landing spot on the poop. GENIUS! That lizard was genius! He knew that if he waited patiently in an area that would attract his victim, surely his victim would come. He was right, the fly came.

Flies love poop. I don’t know why. But that’s something I want to get to the bottom of (no pun intended.) I mean, you have to agree this is fascinating stuff! The dog poops, the lizard does push-ups on the poop, the fly comes to the poop, the lizard eats the fly. This is repeated until the lizard has a full belly, or until someone picks up the poop.

Poop is definitely NOT a safe place to hang out if you are a fly. Yet they can’t seem to resist it!

Clearly you would never be found sunning on poop, nor would I. But there are other things: people and places; that are potentially dangerous poop piles for us. In fact, co-workers, neighbors, friends and other people with whom we come in contact on a daily basis may lead us to a proverbial pile of poop where satan sits; patiently waiting for us to circle over and come in for a landing.

Make no mistake, if we attempt to land there, he, satan, and/or his minions will strike. satan would like nothing more than to make a meal out of you, a precious child of God – even if it means waiting in a nasty pile of defecated matter for a long period of time. To satan, it is worth the wait, it is worth the stench. The soul of one of God’s children is a great reward for the evil piece of . . . . . well, you get the picture, I do not need to be vulgar, right?

Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who WALKS NOT in the counsel of the ungodly, NOR STANDS in the path of sinners, NOR SITS in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

According to the Nelson Study Bible, the parallelism in this section of scripture speaks of an increasingly deeper involvement with wickedness; “walking beside,” “stand with,” “sitting beside.” When we walk, stand and sit with evil, we will end up in his bed. The contrast is strong, instead of finding enjoyment in walking, standing or sitting with wicked persons, we must find our deep enjoyment in the things of God, particularly the Word of God.

Clearly, we are not to walk, stand or sit anywhere near the the lusts of the world; and most certainly, we should never circle and come in for a landing. Please recognize that the pile in your yard (life) may look and smell much different than dog poop, but the same spiritual danger lurks there. Make no mistake, if you or I choose the poop, the vile lizard from hell will snatch us up and never look back.

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”

James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Where does satan wait and watch for you? What lures and attracts you? What beckons you to walk, stand and sit with it? What is it? Drugs? Alcohol? Gambling? Hatred? Fear? Jealousy? Unforgiveness? Porn? What is it? Is it misuse of social media? Is it an eating disorder or improper view of your self image? What is it? Whatever it is, know this, satan lurks there, in full camo, waiting patiently for you to circle and come in for a landing. But before you can even touch ground, he will devour you, and you will be his.

Don’t be that guy, don’t be the fly! Don’t walk, stand or sit with the enemy. Rather, consider this: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:2-3

SOOOOOOOO much better than being eaten by the poopy-push-up lizard, right?

A true friend will expect godliness from you; no, wait, a true friend will DEMAND godliness from you and settle for nothing less. If you have something or someone in your life who is luring you to a pile of poop, that person is NOT your friend. That person DOES NOT have your best interest at heart. That person is a liar and a fraud, that person is the lizard lying in wait on fecal matter.

If it LOOKS like dog poop, and it SMELLS like dog poop, DON’T TASTE IT; it IS dog poop! Just say “NO!” Don’t walk, stand or sit . . .RUN!

Dear Lord, please help me to recognize the dangerous areas of my life. Help me to identify them and avoid them. Remind me to find my deep enjoyment in the things of You, particularly Your precious Word. Remind me to hide Your Word in my heart, where I can quickly and easily find it when I am faced with raunchy satanic excrement. Please Lord, guard and guide me to be influenced by the Holy Spirit, not the world. Help me to draw near to You, and You to me. I love you!

Disclaimer:
No living creatures were injured or eaten during the writing of this blog. I mean, a fly was eaten during my research, but . . .

I purposely do not capitalize the name of satan, the great deceiver. Not sure why, I guess I feel he just doesn’t deserve the recognition.

HELP! I NEED PANCAKES!

My dogs smell like Maple Syrup. My house smells like Maple Syrup. All. The. Time. If not all the time, at least much of the time. Not that I mind, I LOVE Maple Syrup! Warm Maple Syrup poured over my pancakes makes me happy. Very happy!

For the longest time, we could not figure out why our dogs smelled so delicious! My son finally googled “Why does my dog smell like Maple Syrup?” and got to the bottom of the mystery! A local herb in our yard, known as Pseudognaphalium californicum (Cudweed) was the culprit.

“Pseudognaphalium californicum is an annual or biennial herb growing a branching stem reaching 20 to 80 centimeters in height. Stem branches bear linear to somewhat lance-shaped leaves 2 to 20 centimeters long. The green herbage is glandular and scented. The leaves produce a distinctive aroma like maple syrup. The inflorescence is a wide cluster of flower heads, each enveloped in an involucre of rows of bright white phyllaries.”

Cudweed has a pretty flower, is edible, medicinal and well, smells great! Cudweed is a main food source to the Painted Lady Butterfly as well, and our yard was one of the stops those beauties made on their recent migration! There are so many fabulous things about having Cudweed growing in the yard! What I find interesting, though, is how its fragrance rubs off on my dogs, who come into the house and make me crave pancakes! Recently my Mobile Vet paid a call and said she smelled like Maple Syrup and craved pancakes for the rest of the day after visiting our little cottage!

It’s interesting to me how our surroundings can impact us so. We may actually smell like a specific environment in which we spend time. Many years ago I worked at McDonald’s, and I smelled like greasy fries until my next shower! We absorb what we immerse ourselves in and begin to smell like it, and then we start stinking up those we love, and places we go. I had a friend who drank so much Kombucha Tea, the smell was literally coming out of his pores!

The moral of the story is this: be very careful where you go, be mindful of what you absorb. Be aware of the influence you are having on those you love.  People come to my little cottage and crave pancakes! They feel warm fuzzy’s as they breathe in the wonderful Maple Syrup fragrance, and they want to come back! They tell their friends and family about the little cottage that smells like Maple Syrup!

This is all fine and good, but I want people who come to Calmin Cottage, or otherwise spend time around me to crave Jesus! I want them to feel warm fuzzy’s as they breathe in the wonderful essence of God’s unfathomable love! I want them to tell their friends and family about the little cottage that smells like Jesus! That means I am going to have to walk uprightly, on the paths He puts before me! Paths that take me through fragrant fields of His unconditional love and immeasurable grace! Paths that take me toward Him, soaking up the fragrance of Him, and far away from the vile odors of this world. Paths that lead me to a place where I absorb only Him; to the point of His essence coming out of my pores.

I want to be like the character Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown movies.


But rather than leaving a trail of dirt and dust wherever I go, I want to leave a trail of God’s unending mercy, grace, love and, well . . . maybe a little Maple Syrup.

What is the essence people get from being around you? What are others absorbing as a result of being around you? Are you giving off the the sweet aroma of God’s love? Or are you passing on the pungent smell of hatred, bitterness, arrogance, jealousy, worry or fear? If your essence is not that of the Lord’s, then you are walking on the wrong path.  Any path that leads you away from your Heavenly Father is dangerous indeed.

Proverbs 3:5,6  ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  

Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Let God lead you through the sweet and fragrant paths He has intended for you and be blessed!

Can we eat some pancakes now?

appetizing bread breakfast close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Filters and Fig Leaves: I’m a Fake and Your a Phony

Not long ago, I received a “friend request” from an old friend whom I had not seen in years. We had been in contact through social media over the past few years, and I was impressed with how well she had aged. She was aging with grace, to be sure. As a matter of fact, I think the social media images of her are much more attractive than how I remember her from High School! Oh to be like her and get better with age! She invited me to meet her for lunch. I can’t lie, that sounded terrible to me, because she looks 30, and I look, well, I don’t look 30.

I may not be aging as gracefully as she is, however, I have become a near expert at figuring out exactly how to hold my phone camera to take an appropriate selfie! If I hold my arm up this high and take the picture from exactly this angle, with the camera looking down at my face, it hides, or at least somewhat minimizes my pesky double chin. It also seems to thin out my face a little and take some texture off the noticeable crows feet poking out from the corners of my eyes. Then, if I apply certain filters, the puffiness of my old and tired eye lids and the unflattering bags under my eyes seem to miraculously deflate, taking years of wear and tear off my appearance! But alas and alack, it’s all an illusion.

I agreed to meet her for lunch.

When my old friend waved at me from her seat at the table for two in the restaurant where we planned to meet, I didn’t recognize her! At. All.

As I looked at the middle aged woman waving at me, my first thought was “Okay, wow, the lighting must be really bad in here!” I mean, I knew it was her because this lady was wearing a blue floral blouse, exactly like my old friend said she’d be wearing, and of course she was smiling and waving enthusiastically at me! So there’s that, but seriously, had I put the social media image of my friend side by side with the image of the woman at the table, never would I have guessed they were the same person! Never.

Not wanting to call the kettle black, I must confess that my friend was probably thinking the same thing about me! Had I not been wearing the solid fuscia blouse I’d described to her, and entered the restaurant alone, at the agreed upon time, she may not have recognized me either!

She was a fake, and I was a phony, exposed by the noticeable absence of the filters of social media! Each of us had become masters of disguise, master manipulators of our appearance, posting not-exactly-accurate images of the truth.

Not-exactly-accurate” can also be translated . . . LIE.

Of course we all want to represent ourselves the best we can, but, we need to represent ourselves honestly. That’s not to say we can’t take extra measures to look our best, after all, as my pastor once said, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!” So applying some makeup and styling our hair etc. is not bad, in fact, it’s good! It makes us feel better about how we are representing ourselves to the general public and our friends and family, and, well, let’s face it, it makes them feel better too! We should definitely take pride in our physical appearance, but what about our spiritual appearance?

We need to be mindful of the spiritual appearance we are presenting. C.S. Lewis said; “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the out side world.” We must take measures daily to insure that our spiritual appearance is one that will honor God, and draw attention to Him, not us!

If we are covering our sin-appearance with filters, using smoke and mirrors to convince our friends and families that we have achieved a certain level of spirituality, we are in big trouble. We may be fooling them – probably not; we may even be fooling ourselves – not likely; but one thing is for certain, we are NOT fooling God! God is immune to the illusion of filters, and He sees deep down to the depths of our soul. No filter or fig leaf can keep God from seeing the truth.

When we walk in to the throne room of God with a filter of good works, or a fig leaf of kind deeds covering our wickedness, God sees right through. He will look at us and say, “Good job with the works and stuff, but this I have against you . . . you have forgotten your First Love, ME. You’ve made it about appearances. You’re using filters and fig leaves instead of my Word. You’ve made it about YOU, instead of ME.”

Scripture tells us “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). No sin, not even a whispered curse or a fleeting evil thought is hidden from the view of God. In fact, if we realized that God Himself is the only audience for such secret sins, we might be less inclined to hide them under the useless cover of a filter.

When I walked in to the restaurant to meet my old friend, I saw through her filters and she saw through mine. We hugged, and enjoyed lunch together. By the end of our time together, the filters had come off, our wrinkles and crows feet where exposed, and we truly saw each other for the first time in 40 years, no illusions, no filter, no fig leaf.

I must say, she is stunning. As am I.

A Hard Nut to Crack

 

I like to pick our macadamia nuts while they are still on the tree and in the husk. With 14 trees to harvest, we cannot pick them off the trees fast enough, and many fall to the ground. Once on the ground, they are prey to a variety of different bugs, birds and creatures of the night. Macadamia nuts are known for their ridiculously hard shell; they are practically impossible to crack. Several of our good nut crackers have been literally broken in two while unsuccessfully trying to crack a mac nut. With such a hard shell, it amazes me that these bugs, birds and creatures are able to penetrate not only the husk, but the shell, and devour the sweet meaty nut inside.

Tropical nut borers (TNB, yup, it’s a thing!) such as the Koa seedworm lay their eggs on the husks of macadamia nuts. The larvae then bore through the husk and into the heart of the shell where the tender meat is. The site of entry is nearly undetectable, but that little tropical nut borer gets in and wreaks havoc on the sweet, tasty nut inside. The seemingly impenetrable shell is no match for the tiny Koa seedworm.

Many TNB’s such as the Koa seedworm patiently wait on the orchard floor for a nut to fall to the ground, and then they begin the destructive process of boring into the heart of the nut. More than a few times, I have picked up what appeared to be a perfectly healthy macadamia nut, put it in the nut cracker, cracked it open and found a Koa worm nibbling away at the nut; other times, no nut, just the silky web of a tropical nut borer’s nest. Note to self: Never, EVER, eat a mac nut without a thorough visual inspection!

Macadamia nuts are much less likely to fall prey to a TNB when they are on the tree, but even nestled in the branches of the mother tree, they are exposed to fruit rats and crows. Crows pick them and throw them to the ground. Then they break them open with their beaks and eat the meat. The crows also devour our pecans. Fruit rats pick them and take them into the warm engine compartment of my husbands truck to dine on them there. We often find nut shells, along with empty snail shells under the hood of the truck; the aftermath of the predator’s escargot and macadamia nut feast! If I was a fruit rat, I’d definitely want to live at my house! Most people don’t eat as well as the fruit rats of Calmin Cottage!

Like a macadamia nut still on the tree, when we are nestled in the branches of our loving Father’s strong arms, we are in the safest place we can be! But even then, there are those who desire to snatch us away from that place and toss us to the ground. There are proverbial tropical nut borers that want nothing more than to bore straight into our hearts and take residence there. Hatred, bitterness, envy, unforgiveness, betrayal, grief, jealousy, guilt, disappointment, and the list goes on. These TNB’s can destroy us. They can fester and grow in our hearts until they have taken full residence there. Eventually, they  turn our hearts into a nest where the things that want to destroy us can grow; things that steal our joy, our contentment, and even try to steal our soul.

If you are like me, you may have had seasons in your life when one or more of these TNB’s gained access to your heart. On the outside, we may appear to be perfectly healthy and well put together; someone who has a charmed life, perfect family, dream job, dream home, etc. etc. etc. There may be no outward signs of penetration whatsoever. But when we get cracked open, there’s a TNB living comfortably in a silky web, entangling us, destroying the tender meat of our heart.

The bible says “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flows springs of life.” We must find a way to guard against the devil’s heart-boring seedworms of unforgiveness, grief, hatred, bitterness and all the other literal heart-wrenching emotions, attitudes, actions or habits that gain access to our heart and reside there. We must also recognize that sometimes, sadly, we open the door of our hearts and invite them in.

Macadamia nut farmers can remedy their tropical nut borer problem by purchasing tiny parasitic wasps and releasing them in the orchard. TNB eggs are parasitized by the wasps, and killed before they can hatch. The wasps kill the eggs and larvae before they can bore into the heart of the nut. We, however, can’t just purchase a bunch of parasitic wasps to protect our hearts! So how are we to keep the devil’s heart boring TNB’s from gaining access to our hearts and residing there?

Ephesians 6:11-17 tells us how to protect our hearts from tropical nut borers:
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. And sometimes that sin nature causes us to harbor, well, sinful things in our hearts. So put on the full armor of God! Be battle ready! Recognize when you are allowing the devil’s little TNB access to your heart through your own willful choices. Repent, and ask God to restore you to Him! Keep your heart and mind stayed on Him! It is a very dangerous mistake to acknowledge the Lord and keep our eyes on the devil. Far better to acknowledge the devil while keeping our eyes on Christ. Follow Him so closely that your nose is in His back, and you cannot see to the left or to the right. All you see is Jesus!

Psalm 51:10-12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord, and take not Thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me!”

Jesus is in the business of restoration. When we call on Him, He will hear us, forgive us of our sins, cleanse us of the Koa seedworm, or anything else that tries to bore into our hearts. He gives us armor, which is impenetrable. Satan may bark and lunge, but when we’re battle ready, wearing the full armor of God, he cannot penetrate our heart or take residence there.

In God’s full armor, by His strength, we are . . . wait for it . . .  a hard nut to crack!

My Powerful Father, Please strengthen me to rise from my failings, turn from the deceptive voices of those things that bore into my heart, whose promises are impotent and empty. Those feelings and emotions that steal my joy and contentment. Through Your son, and in Your armor, I am surrounded and protected by Your might.

Step Away From The Toilet

I have three dogs who compete for a drink from the toilet.  Two are tall enough that they can just put their head right in the pearly white porcelain bowl and lap up that delicious water to their hearts delight! My third dog, however, is a little Chi-weeny, and can’t reach the toilet bowl. His name is Cabo. Cabo will loiter under the two big dogs as they drink, eagerly waiting for them to pull their heads out of the toilet, (literally) and drip some delicious wet drops of Eau de Toilet Water on the bathroom floor, then he excitedly licks the drops off the floor.

Yogi is a 180 pound Bouvier des Flanders. Bouviers have a long beard, so, whatever water he doesn’t drink, gets pulled out of the porcelain pit by his beard. After Yogi’s drinking binges, he leaves a tell-tale trail of water droplets similar to the bread crumbs of Hansel and Gretel, throughout the entire house. This makes Cabo very, very happy, and he faithfully follows the wet trail, licking up every drop. If he gets really lucky, he can stand under Yogi and enjoy a complete shower courtesy the run-off  from Yogi’s beard! Remington, on the other hand, is a tidy toilet bowl drinker. He’s a German Short-haired Pointer, no beard, so when he drinks from the toilet, he comes out pretty dry, but he can drink practically the whole bowl by himself! The danger for Remington is that he gulps the water so fast that he chokes and hacks and coughs after binge drinking in the bathroom.

There’s always a dog drinking from the toilet. Always. I give them clean, fresh, cool water everyday. In fact, they have water in the back yard, and in the front yard, but they want to drink from the toilet. Why do they drink from the toilet? This is something I cannot answer, but I’d like to get to the bottom (pun intended) of it!

Do they not want to make the trip to the two outside water bowls? Are the bowls too far away? Do they not like using the doggy door to get to the water outside? Does the porcelain make the water colder? Fresher? Warmer? Do they prefer the toilet just because it’s forbidden? I need to know the answers to these questions!

 

If the seat is down, Yogi will stand there, in the bathroom, looking longingly at the toilet until someone comes and opens it for him! What is the draw? What draws them away from the clean, sparkling water that I serve them – to the toilet! Now, don’t get me wrong, I keep the toilets very clean, but I wouldn’t want to drink from them, and for the life of me, I cannot understand why my dogs continue to forsake the good, clean water I provide, for the water in the toilet. It makes me think of how Jesus Christ offers us “Living Water”, yet we so often choose our water from some proverbial toilet instead.

Living Water (Hebrew: מַֽיִם־חַיִּ֖ים‎ mayim-ḥayyîm; Greek: ὕδωρ ζῶν, hydōr zōn) is a biblical term which appears in both the Old and New Testaments. In the book of John, Chapter 4, Jesus offers Living Water to the woman at the well. Jesus was traveling through Samaria on His way back to Galilee. Jesus, who was tired and thirsty from His journey, sat down to rest by Jacob’s well. While resting at the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water:

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone to the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you Living Water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this “Living Water”? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus was talking about Living Water which will be a spring of water welling up to eternal life! Yet, we allow ourselves to be drawn away; away from the life-giving water to a place where we dip our heads and hearts into water that never quenches, cannot quench; yet we are drawn to it, and if the seat is down, we stand and stare, waiting for someone to come along and lift the seat for us. When it’s available, we drink it. “I’m not hurting anyone but myself!” we say, “No one will be hurt by my decision to drink from the toilet!” we say, but we are wrong. As we leave the toilet after bingeing on worthless water that cannot quench, we drip and drool all over those who are around us. Just like little Cabo gets dripped on by Yogi.  We leave a trail of our mess that causes others to slip and fall.

Come to think about it, we are much like Eve in the Garden of Eden, selfishly taking and eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, not realizing or caring about how it will impact others – in Eve’s case, the entire world! Who are we impacting? Our families and children? Friends? Co-workers? Neighbors? Who is being impacted every time we allow ourselves to be drawn away from the good, Living Water that God wants us to have? Who are we causing to slip and fall because of the slippery aftermath of our behavior? Who are we hurting when we forsake God’s clear and simple instruction to “eat of any tree in the garden” except the one in the bathroom? Step away from the toilet!

Back to the woman at the well. We don’t know what the “woman at the well’s” name was, so I’m going to call her Wellma for ease of writing and understanding. Wellma, in her  life time, drank from a lot of toilets, and I mean A LOT. Now, remember, she didn’t know it was Jesus who was asking her for water, she just knew that the guy sitting at the well was a Jew, and she was a Samaritan, and the two were like oil and vinegar. As their conversation went on, Jesus talked to her about the toilets she’d been drinking from, and directed her to Himself and the Living Water that comes from Him alone. Here’s how it went:

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am He.”

Wowza! Wellma just realized that the guy sitting next to her at Jacob’s well knew everything about her! He knew she was drinking from the toilet of immorality, He knew that she’d already had 5 husbands and was now shacking up with a sixth guy! Wellma left Jesus and went back to her people and told them everything Jesus had said to her. She told them that she thought the guy at the well might be the Christ!

Wellma’s people went to the well and saw Jesus, and they asked Him to stay. Jesus stayed another two days among the Samaritans, and Wellma, as well as many of her people believed that this man was indeed the Christ, the Savior of the World! They partook of the Living Water Jesus offered them! They put the toilet seat down and drank the Living Water!

Chuck Smith says this about that:

Thirst Again“. An extremely profound statement: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again.”This statement should be written over every ambition you have. What is it that you are hoping to attain in life? What is it that you think will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment? What goals are you pressing toward? What possessions are you striving to acquire? Whatever it is, write over the top of it, “Drink of this water, but you will thirst again.” There is nothing in the material realm that will satisfy our spiritual thirst.

So step away from the toilet!

 

 

The Deep End

I was drowning.  Surprisingly, I felt calm and peaceful.

blue blur color dark
Photo by Blaque X on Pexels.com

Quiet. Such Quiet. Weightless. Such weightlessness. Quiet, weightless, calm. One would think that I might be afraid of the water after nearly drowning, but the truth is, I love it! I love to be under water! Calm, peaceful, quiet, weightless and still. Nothing. Nothing could penetrate the deep, deep quiet. Nothing, that is until my mother jumped into the pool and rescued me!

It was like waking up after having been somewhere between awake and asleep, suspended, floating, quiet and calm. What I remember about my mother rescuing me is just that, quiet and calm. One minute, I was sinking, the next minute, I was sitting on the edge of a hotel pool next to my mama, who was quiet and calm. Maybe she didn’t feel quiet and calm, but that was the vibe in which she blanketed me. There was no condemnation. No condemnation for the behavior I chose that would result in me slipping away into the deep end of the hotel pool, and her having to dive in to save me. No condemnation for my choices, just rescue. Rescue.

I was young, elementary aged, and my memory may not be exactly accurate, but it is my memory.  And ones memory can not be disputed. My family;  parents, older brother and younger sister were moving to a new home in a new state and were staying in a hotel. This hotel had a soda machine that took nickels. It had grape soda and orange soda for a nickel! On this particular day, I was enjoying an orange soda when I decided to make my way back in the pool under the watchful eye of my mama.

Fascinating, just fascinating the way other people in the pool were stretched out like the horizon and moving across the water; something I couldn’t seem to accomplish. Every time I took my feet off of the pool floor, I began to sink. So I kept my feet on the pool floor.

Being a young child, I was proficient in thinking within my desires and dreams rather than within my reality. I decided that it would be a good idea, a smart option, to start walking from the safe shallow end of the pool, step by step, into the deep end to see just how far I could go.

Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he mediates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither. And whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the winds drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous! For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Step by deadly step I walked into the depths of the deep end. I found myself bouncing, as it were, on my toes, to keep my head above water, until that one step. That one step that was just a little too deep, and I couldn’t bounce back up to life-giving oxygen. That one step when quiet weightlessness took hold of me and put me into complete and total submission to the thing into which I was walking. The deep end.

It seemed like an eternity. An eternity in which I was suspended in the grip of the deep end and unable to breathe, completely enveloped by the water into which I willingly and purposefully walked. Quiet, weightless, calm, as the water claimed me.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, there were strong arms around me! I could feel gravity pulling me down even as strong arms defied the pull and brought me to the surface of the water which had completely engulfed me, drawing me down, down, down . . . . . down.

My sweet mama had not for one second taken her eyes off me, and before any lifeguard could even think about jumping in to rescue me, she did! Fully clothed, quite possibly fresh from the salon, my mama dived into the water and brought me to the surface where I would find breath. Life. She brought me to the surface where I could find life.

I clearly remember the moment I found myself sitting on the edge of the pool with my mom. She was drenched, sitting there next to me, both of us with our legs hanging over the side of the pool. I can still envision her clothed legs and feet in the water, and I thought I was going to be in BIG trouble! But all she said to me was “Are you alright baby?” as she placed one hand on my thigh and the other around my shoulders. No questions. No condemnation. Grace. Just grace. And love. Grace and love.

How easy it would have been for her to scream accusations at me! “Why would you?” “I told you not too!” “How could you?” “Do you know what could have happened?” But she said nothing. Nothing – which screamed in my ears louder than words ever could! Her nothing said “I love you!” Her nothing said “Regardless of your choices, I love you!” “I will always be there for you, no matter what! I love you!” “I would gladly give my life for you! You are my precious child!”

Fast forward 25 years. I was sitting on the beach in Hawaii on the North Shore. I was 7 months pregnant with my second child. I had my sweet one year old on my very pregnant lap when I noticed my husband, who was in the water, frantically signalling me with his arms. There was a giant rogue wave coming into shore that was sure to take me, my unborn baby and my one year old out to sea! I tried to get up and run, but it was too late.

Before I knew it, I was being dragged to sea! I dug my heels into the sand and fought against the pull of the water. In my hands, I tightly gripped the hands of my one year old son as the sea tried to rip him from me. I could feel the sand disintegrating around my dug-in feet, but I held on to my son as tightly as I could, his little body being ripped from my grip by the torrents of the powerful rogue wave.

In the midst of the torrential pull on my son from my hands, I felt arms around me. Big, strong, all-encompassing arms around me! Strong arms pressing my son, whose hands were now embedded in mine as though they were one, securely against my pregnant belly.  Peace. Calm. Quiet. Weightless. I found myself, and my son, being brought against the current to the shore in the arms of strong men whose faces we would never see. These rescuers whom we would never be able to properly thank.

Without explanation or pause for thanks, our rescuers disappeared into the Hawaiian rain forest. These were big Samoan men. Extraordinarily big men. They rescued us. If my memory serves, there were two of them helping me, and two helping my friend. But they disappeared before we could acknowledge or thank them. Saved. Rescued without a word. No word of condemnation, no exhortation about how we should not have been on that beach on that day, nothing. Nothing but quiet rescue.

frozen wave against sunlight
Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

It was my mother’s love for me that caused her to dive into the pool the day she saved me. Love that was much deeper than the water which so effortlessly held me. There is no doubt in my mind that the giant Samoans were literal angels who saved me, my son and my unborn child. Again, a rescue fueled by deep, deep love. My mom and my angels saved my life and the lives of my children.  But the deep, deep love of Jesus saved my soul.

There are times when I am tempted to walk into the deep end of some hypothetical ocean and find myself bobbing up and down on my toes between my choices. There are times when I feel I am being dragged into the depths of the deepest sea by a rogue wave. One I never even saw coming. I am very aware that there is someone who would like to see me drown. Someone who would like to see me slip away into his snares. But guess what? I have been rescued! I have been saved! Jesus Christ, God’s Son, my Savior, willingly, quietly and calmly left the grip of His Father and came to my rescue on the cross. And He came for you too!

Do you find yourself bouncing up and down on your tiptoes in the deep end trying to get a breath of air? Are you suspended in the grip of something that is pulling you down, deeper and farther away? Do you need to be rescued? Turn to Jesus! He will bring you – against the current – to the surface of your situation and to the shores of His love and grace! In Him there is no condemnation, just rescue. Be rescued today.