Staring Down the Giant

 

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…”Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you…” Deuteronomy 1:29-30

Every morning, the same feeling of dread washes over me. I have to pass a house that has a terrifying German Shepherd stalking its backyard. I am a huge animal lover, but we’re talking about a giant, beastly creature with long white teeth and incessant barking that reverberates in my chest. He lives behind a 6-foot privacy fence, but that doesn’t stop him from intimidating all who walk by.

Every time I pass his property, he jumps up and down barking with his head, full of snarling teeth, bobbing, running back and forth along the fence. I feel one day he may jump just high enough to clear the fence and come after me.

Each time I approach the house, I feel my blood pressure rise. Even if I’m talking on the phone or jamming to my favorite tunes, in the back of my mind I am hoping this isn’t the day he jumps the fence; hoping the fence gate is shut – and locked. Hoping this won’t be the day…as I read the “Beware of dog” sign posted nearby.

Recently, I turned the street corner with my dog and was distracted by something that had caught my eye. I looked forward and staring back at me was this beast – standing in the middle of the road, staring me down. With four legs braced, neck stretched forward and head bent low, his eyes locked onto mine.

I froze in my step and lost my breath.

There was nowhere to go. I know better than to run the other way. I’m not into playing chase, me being the fetching toy. I was stuck in the middle of this lonely road, just my dog, this beast, and me.

I had to walk past it. I puffed up my posture and squared my jaw. Holding my head high, with palms sweating, I prayed – hard. As my dog and I got closer it didn’t budge, not an inch. Visions flashed in my mind of this beast attacking my dog who is no match for him; visions of me getting tangled up in her leash and being caught in the middle of the two dogs; visions of it coming straight for me, and this dog stands as tall as me (easy) on his hind legs. I felt faint.

Walking slowly toward it, I prayed more and more and more.

Just as I approached it, the dog’s owner appeared from his garage. Nervous relief swept over me, and I felt a cold chill run down my spine as I passed by this beast. He called the dog inside and it reluctantly followed, but it never took its eyes off of me. I don’t think I drew a breath until I hit the next block.

Life is like this sometimes. We’re just doing our daily thing and wham! out of nowhere stands our Goliath. Like my fear of the beast getting loose, our worst nightmare comes true before our very eyes. A bad medical report, the pink slip of unemployment, a spouse packs up and leaves, a prodigal child disappears, death of family and friends, physical and psychological threats to us, our family, our country and there we are standing alone, staring at Goliath. It’s real. You can see it, hear it, and feel its presence.

Running the other way doesn’t make Goliath any less real. We must approach it.

What changed for me in that moment was the beast’s owner making himself visible. Instantly, he was the one in control of the situation because he controls the beast.

As a believer, we are not left to fend for ourselves in this big, scary world. We have God who fights for us, Jesus who intercedes for us, and the Holy Spirit who encourages and comforts us. We are never alone.

Bad things happen to everyone, but nothing happens without it passing through the Father’s hands first whether we understand it in this lifetime or eternity. If we live, may we live for the sake of Christ’s salvation. If we suffer, may it not be in vain, but be a testimony to others that God alone is enough and Jesus is worth it. After all, He believes we are worth the suffering He endured. If we die, may it not be for nothing, but somehow God will get the glory through it so others would come to know Him as their one true God.

Believers don’t get a pass on the bad stuff. We endure illness, unemployment, broken hearts, loss, and betrayal. We suffer, get angry, wrestle with forgiveness, feel lost, get frustrated, and question the future. But, God is right there, every step, talking us down from our ledges. He is our sanity in this insane world. Christ is hope. Courage. Joy. The Holy Spirit is right there to remind us of times that God was faithful to us, even when we were unfaithful to Him.

What’s your Goliath today? If you’re staring it down by yourself, ask God to come to you through the saving grace of Christ. Let Him go before you. Whether or not He calls off the dogs, you will not be alone.

No matter how big our Goliaths are, God is bigger. He is stronger and His strength in us is enough to stare down our giants.

God is always fighting for us. Sometimes He battles our giants for us. Other times He calls us onto the battlefield with Him where we overcome – not only our giants – but our own fears and weaknesses as well. And that, friend, is a double victory.

With God, we can look past the Goliath standing in front of us and focus on our hope in Christ.

<<CLICK HERE for this blog’s Tunes page for a great song to see hope, not Goliath, in life’s scariest moments.>>

 

* photo credit

 

 

 

What a mom feels like at the end of the school year

After two separate 2-mile walks in the same day, I sat at my computer to take care of a few things when something unusual caught my eye. I looked over my shoulder and there, in the middle of the darkened hallway, laid our little dog completely passed out.

She kept the pace with me through both exercise sessions and was a real sport, but somewhere between her dog bed in the family room and her other dog bed under my desk, she just couldn’t walk another step and plopped onto the floor – mid-journey – to take a needed nap.

The good, bad and ugly all in, I looked at her and thought, If I could describe what being a mother feels like by the end of the school year… This. Is. It.  

A picture really is worth a thousand euphoric, exhausted, hopeful, disappointed, excited, anxious, relieved, frustrated, happy, sad, and proud mamma words. It’s all worth it.

Now for that nap…

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The relationship of lifelong love

I often see the same senior couple walking when I exercise. What strikes me about them is that they are always holding hands. Not just a loose touch, but a firm grip on one another. I am captivated and curious as to why.

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This particular morning was no different. There they were, walking without words, yet holding one another. As my dog and I trailed at a distance on the same familiar path, I watched them and wondered, Why the tight grasp?

I’ve thought all along that what makes this couple hold each other’s hands so tightly was their lifelong love for each other. Hopefully so, but there is something more so subtle that if I blinked I would’ve missed it.

It isn’t only because they want to – they need to.

As they walked, each took their turn ever-so-slightly losing their balance. Time and again, I watched as one of them began to lose their footing, the other one pulled them into their side for support through the strong grasp of their hand.

It was beautiful.

This husband and wife know a truth many marriages never learn. They not only want each other, they need each other. They not only need each other, they want each other.

Too often, marriages side with one or the other: I want you, but I don’t need you. Or, I need you, but I don’t want you. In either case, the relationship is doomed to stand the valleys and victories of life.

If a marriage is based solely on wanting each other, what happens when those wants change as time passes and we change with it?

Or, what if we need each other without wanting each other? This is more of a business partnership than a marriage. People use each other up until there is nothing left.

What I saw this morning was the idea that it’s both – want and need. Not out of selfish gain, but of selfless giving. Their actions gave new meaning to the vow, To have and to hold from this day forth…

That’s a vow, and a hand, worth holding on to.