I just got back from taking my dog on a walk around our neighborhood. I usually don't, but tonight I took my ipod along. About 10 minutes into our walk, I notice Bailey is looking behind her and acting a little scared.....before I even know what is going on, I turn around and there is a wrinkly bulldog running up to her. It's just a short fat thing, but because I had my music on, I had no idea whether the dog was growling at my dog or what. Bailey is a scaredy dog for sure. She just cowered and practically played dead. The owner of the dog was coming after it....and in the meantime, Bailey somehow pulled so hard to get away from the dog that she squeezed her neck right out of her collar! In a minutes time, everything was fine and well again. This was part one of the lesson of tonight's walk.
As we continued walking, there was a point where every house we passed, I could hear a dog barking at us through it's fence - over the music I was listening to. At one of the houses, I could even see the head of one of the dogs through the fence, and this dog was a big one.
As we walked by these houses, I realized that this is what I feel like my life is right now. One walk around a seemingly safe area......and I have this regular occurring noise that is the routines in life. And although that noise is constant.....there's outside noise that doesn't necessarily interrupt my noise....but it definitely changes it. And those barking dogs in those fences pose as the various disruptions in life....the trials....the things that break you. Sometimes all you can hear is a vague noise of those occurrences......sometimes you can get a really good nasty look at one of the occurrences faces.....and sometimes that bloody brokenness just chases you down.
Every week it seems to be like something new...something different....but always troublesome. My faith has been so radically jarred here lately.....well I can't even say that honestly. It was at a nice little level of me not putting any effort into really caring about my spiritual side....and then it just became really noisy with life events. I wish I didn't have this to admit, but in the last month, there has been at least one moment when I said out loud, "I don't even know if God exists." And then.....I read this tonight....
"O tested soul, perhaps the Lord is sending you through this trial to develop your gifts. You have some gifts that would never have been discovered if not for trials. Do you not know that your faith never appears as great in the warm summer weather as it does during a cold winter? Your love is all too often life a firefly, showing very little light except when surrounded by darkness. And hope is like the stars - unseen in the sunshine of prosperity and only discovered during a night of adversity. Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children's gifts, causing them to shine even brighter."
"Wasn't it just a short time ago that on your knees you prayed, 'Lord, I seem to have no faith. Please show me that I do'? Wasn't your prayer, even though you may not have realized it at the time, actually asking for trials? For how can you know if you have faith, until your faith is exercised? You can depend upon the fact that God often sends trials so our gifts may be discovered and so we may be certain of their existence. And there is more than just discovered our gifts - we experience real growth in grace as another result of our trials being sanctified by Him."
"God trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury buy by causing them to endure lengthy marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy backpacks."
"Dear Christian, could this not account for the troubles you are now experiencing? Could this not be the reason He is dealing with you?"
"Being left alone by Satan is not evidence of being blessed."