This post could be subtitled:
"A Beagle and Some Ear Drops."
In case you don't already know, my youngest son owns a beagle, Marty – my beloved granddog. And I'm doing some dog-sitting. I love when I get a chance to watch him. He and I are the chummiest cohorts, inseparable allies. We are the best of friends.
So, I'm feeding him and taking him for walks. I'm snoozing next to him. I'm petting him and playing with him and cuddling. And, since he also happens to have an ear infection, I get to give him his medication.
You see, beagles tend to be susceptible to ear infections because they have such big, floppy ears. And, because Marty also suffers from allergies, his ears are his Achilles' heel, so to speak.
So, the other night I'm preparing to give him his drops. First of all, I must plop him on his side in order to get him into proper position for the application of the drops.
Somehow, he knows this.
I don't know how a 30-ish pound dog can suddenly turn his body into *Jupiter weight.*
(I googled this – an object, person, or small dog (!) would weigh 2.34 times more on Jupiter. Hence, Marty's *Jupiter weight* is around 72 pounds. Of course, if you factor in his "stubborn dead weight" I'm figuring he weighs about a ton…just sayin').
OK, then there's "The Look" he gives me – or, more accurately "The Avoidance of The Look" that he executes.
He very slyly turns his eyes away from mine, as I tell him that I need to do his drops now. He doesn't look at me, but I know he's heard. I can almost hear his inner dialogue:
"Oh no you aren't. You are not going to give me any drops. You can't do it if I don't look at you…"
It's like he thinks he's invisible if he isn't looking at me!
Then, in a maneuver that would rival any football running back, he slowly extends one arm out against me in a stiff-arm move. It's quite effective, and does indeed prolong the *plopping* process.
OK, finally plopped, I now try to push his head flat.
How on earth can a dog be so strong??
When he sets his mind to it, Marty is almost immovable! When we go out on walks, when he stops to sniff something…
Dead in his tracks, low to the ground, with every muscle tensed to defy me. I have literally been unable to tug him or move him.
We take our walks on a street where my son lives. It's a busy street. I often wonder what people think as they drive by. One smallish woman tugging and pulling (unsuccessfully, mind you) on a retractable leash (let out to its full length) with a small dog at the other end who might as well be a mountain – not going anywhere!
Of course, I also wonder what they think when they see him pulling me along on our walks like a sled dog.
I can hear inside people's heads as they drive by:
"Well, I never. Look at that lady running after her dog. Looks like he's winning."
"Hey, see that woman? She must be practicing for the Iditarod. Wait, that’s not a husky, though, is it?"
"Mommy, aren't people supposed to walk their dogs instead of them walking their people?"
So, anyway, my point is this:
Marty is headstrong (with a very strong neck!), stubborn, and resistant.
But, the eardrops are needed, and I must prevail.
So we go through this little "dance."
I wrestle him into position. I push his head down. He raises it back up. I push harder. He looks the other way. I push his head again. He stiff-arms me. I push yet again. He pushes back harder and raises it again. This goes on for a while, until finally Marty relents and keeps his head down. He finally yields to my authority.
And then the drops go in rapidly and easily.
It's like Marty finally understands that these drops are needed, and he just stops fighting.
I think his trust in me finally kicks in, and he yields to what I know is best because he knows that I love him.
A God lesson? Indeed!
So, there are three things I'm thinking about.
One, the issue of resistance.
Why do we do this?
OK, that's a bit of a rhetorical question. For indeed, I KNOW why we do it! We are prideful and ornery disciples, a sometimes stubborn and stiff-necked people. We could be called "The Recalcitrant Redeemed."
It's in our nature (sinful nature, that is) to resist outside authority. After all, isn't that the seed of the apple that caused the Fall?
We want our own way when we want it.
Which is usually right now.
So, we resist when life starts to go another way. We rebel against circumstances that are not pleasing or comfortable. We do not want to take godly testing lying down. We are not inclined to roll over and let Him do what has to be done.
The *eardrops* of refinement are not fun.
Two, I'm thinking about the necessity of testing.
Yes, as much as I hate writing that, as much as I hate admitting that, I know this is true.
TESTING. IS. NECESSARY.
After all, I really don't think that any sort of progress can happen without toil, and struggle, and perseverance.
Athletes know this. Musicians know this. Artists know this. Writers know this.
Parents know this.
Shaping takes effort – both on the part of the Potter and the clay.
It takes hard work to shape something beautiful out of the raw material of our humanness. And it's difficult work to accept the refining fires.
God saves us, yes.
But He loves us too much to stop there. He continues to do His work – the work of sanctification.
Necessary work, but not always very enjoyable.
The *eardrops* of testing are necessary.
Finally, I'm thinking about what happens when I finally give in.
There comes a time when I can sense in Marty that the next time I push his head down, he won't resist. I can't explain how I know, I can just tell.
It's something in his eyes, I think. (Even if they're not looking at me…)
And why does he finally submit?
I think it's because he knows that I would NOT do this if it wasn't for his own good.
Is this not EXACTLY what happens in our walk with God?
He knows that we are not stronger than He is. He knows what we need. He knows we're going to resist. But He persists.
For He indeed knows what is best for us – what is necessary for our own good – provided by His perfect goodness.
After all the posturing, and the avoiding, and the stubborn resisting, I submit to Him. I surrender to the greater knowledge that God has of what is good for me. And then, in that moment when I finally yield, when I finally submit to His ministrations, I will be on my way to spiritual health.
In trust, I give my will over to Him.
Because I know He loves me.
The *eardrops* are what's best for me, and God administers them because He loves me.
Even if He has to wrestle me into the proper position to receive them!
Thanks, Marty, for once again teaching me some valuable insights about God.
And Lord, if You think I need some *eardrops* – please don't give up on me. Even if I don't plop down right away, even if I stiff-arm You, even if I try to look away and pretend You're not there.
Please do it anyway.
For I know that testing is not always fun, but I know that it's necessary and for my own good. I trust You. I know You love me. So, help me stop resisting and help me yield to Your wisdom and Your will.
Even if I use my "Jupiter weight."
You're kidding, right?"
"Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands." (Deuteronomy 8:2, NLT)
"For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 13:3, ESV)
"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" (Psalm 139:23, ESV)
"For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!"
(2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT)
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4, NASB)
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us..." (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)
"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, 'My child, don't make light of the LORD's discipline, and don't give up when he corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.' As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children." (Hebrews 12:5-7, NLT)
"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed." (Hebrews 12:11-12, ESV)
"[For] we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, ESV)
"...yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42, NIV)
What is the *test* that you resist the most?
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