Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receive the early and latter rain. James 5:7 ESV
The dog was a disaster. My husband told me to wait, but I had become slowly obsessed about getting a new dog after my sweet Rosie died in October. It started with just informational reading on breeds and dog training. Then I became a Craig’s List and rescue site stalker, staring at pictures of puppies or abandoned dogs looking for “forever homes”, sort of a magical term that begs the breaking heart to cave in.
Then I saw her! Why she was even the breed I was looking for, at least that week! It had to be God. I called and arranged a meeting in a parking lot in Dennis. A trembling Toy Aussie was handed over to me. She was scared, but everything would be all right, I thought as I drove to Christmas Tree Shop and Petsmart so I could buy beds, toys, snacks – all a dog could ever want.
My husband kind of sighed, because he knew this was coming even though I had agreed to wait, and we welcomed the little dog into our home. But it was wrong, on several levels, and slowly my divine appointment unraveled to reveal what it really was – self-gratification.
How often we put the “God – thing” spin on our own selfishness. My pastor used to say what you think is the voice of God is sometimes just your own voice on reverb. A telltale sign is when we begin to obsess over “must-haves” in order to be complete. Jesus is asked to step down from His throne for just a little while so we can wrestle this new thing into place. Then we want His blessing. Another sign you missed it is a gnawing lack of peace, real peace that comes from self-control and just waiting.
In three short days I realized I had blown it and little Halley went back up on Craig’s List. I prayed for God’s forgiveness and that He would help me redeem my mistake. Then I saw a new ad, “Senior looking for small dog”. I called and spoke with an elderly man who had lost his dog a year earlier and wanted a small dog to be his constant companion. He was retired and had all the time that I did not have to give to a frightened little dog. It was, just perhaps, a match made in heaven. Whew!
It’s been a time of letting go. The last few years, I have watched people I loved a lot walk away. And I’ve placed each one lovingly in God’s hands, hands that can hold a universe and string stars like party decorations across the immeasurable sky. Their names are engraved in those hands and I know His love for them far exceeds my best.
Then my dog died, the dog Jesus gave me after Spence died, and I let her go too, sort-of. I secretly became fixated on replacing her like a new widow that scans e-harmony and envies every couple they see. Your world begins slightly off kilter, then becomes a wild wobble.
Lately I’ve thought that God has had a purpose in removing so many of the familiar props from beside me. The best and most obvious result is that it forces me to find my completeness in Him. This is not a new lesson for me, but as life moves through different seasons, there are new players in the field, new positions to take that require a fresh perspective and I get scared. Frankly, I don’t like to lose things. But sometimes what feels like an unfair stripping away, is God’s preparation for what is to come. We see this a lot in the Bible – a time of separation, sometimes complete obscurity before God reveals a new and wonderful place.
I fully believe the best is yet to come, that the latter rain will be an abundant display of God’s power and glory. But I must be willing to walk through the darkness of the midnight hour, knowing He is there when I can’t see Him, that He loves when I can’t feel it and that He speaks, though I may not always hear.
It’s March 1st and it is hardly a roaring lion. The daffodils in my yard are faked out, pushing through the ground a month early. For me, coming through winter is a bit like coming up from the depths of darkness for a huge breath of glorious air. I might be faked out too but it’s okay. My Savior is on His throne and I am not alone. And I am fully blessed by what I do have. (Special thanks to my husband who loves me through it all.)
I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote in mid-winter called Empty. The Lord gives and He takes away, but we are never left empty if we seek Him first… not Craig’s List. Happy March!
Empty hands I raise to you
I have no tools, no clever thoughts on this
I’m lonely father and you already knew it.
the reel plays again,
and it’s just like then
empty hands, I went home
without my son.
They will say, “Something’s not quite right
with her” fourteen years, after all
is enough time to forget, to go on, to shut the door
on a night 14 years ago,
when I said, “That’s my son,” and You
knew it all along,
death, burial and the awful cycle of
No tools, just You,
Your hand holding me,
in surrender, lifting hands
in praise, and
letting the greater weight of your glory
outweigh the pain
fill me sweet Savior