Real Time Web Analytics

September 14, 2017

Every once in a while God will give us an intense visual lesson so blunt it will be seared on our emotions and spirit. God uses these times as an exclamation point only for the most serious of lessons. They sober us quickly. I believe God does this for our benefit for we would not understand just how serious some lessons are over others. A great lie has befallen many believers that God is not serious about the ‘self’ nature in us. I am here to state that this is not the case. Yesterday we were given a powerful visual that confirmed the truth.

As I have written in our book and in an earlier blog post our dog, Milo, is the exact representation of the ‘self’ nature to us. Although sometimes it is humorous to watch in our dog, ‘self’ is no laughing matter. We were about to find out just how serious, and dangerous ‘self’ really is.

Yesterday morning Milo was at our motel window watching the grass across the parking lot very intently. He was so intent that he was shaking. There was a cute groundhog that had appeared on the lawn quietly minding his own business. We had not seen him before and so we watched him for a bit. Later Wanda and I took Milo out for his usual morning walk. We try to be careful with Milo as he has such power in his back legs and is very willful. The leash is the only way we have to control him so we keep him on it as much as possible. We knew that if he was not leashed he would give chase to any small animal that moves.

After a good walk, on the way back to the motel, I let Milo off his leash a bit early, just before coming to the room. Now Wanda did not want me to do this but I did not listen to the warning. I thought there was little harm and Milo would enjoy the free time. We almost got to the door when Milo spotted something in the grass and took off. I bolted after him and quickly saw that Milo’s target was the groundhog that I thought had gone back to its den. Milo attacked the poor, defenseless creature without warning and bit it hard. I tried to get Milo away but he was very determined. It was only after I had to whip Milo with the leash that he backed off.

Wanda and I were in shock. As I tried to get the leash back on Milo, the groundhog died. Wanda was in distress and crying hard. Our daughters heard the commotion and were at the door asking what was going on. The loss of life hit us like a sledgehammer. Thoughts of the loss of our pets rose in our memories. The question of ‘why’ came up. Ida, Fanny and I sat silent and stone faced as Wanda cried in mourning for the loss of a precious life.

As Wanda prayed she said to the Lord, “today's lesson will stay with me, burned into my memory.” The lesson was not about the death of an innocent creature; it was about the ‘self’ nature. We all knew that Milo was a representation of the ‘self’ nature. The ‘self’ nature will pounce on the unsuspecting, the innocent, without cause, with intent to annihilate. It only comes to kill, steal and destroy. We had personally experienced it coming from others many times. Wanda and I never want to be like that. Wanda pleaded with the Lord for the power to hurt to be gone from her, utterly and entirely. We know that we don't want to be set free with any of ‘self’ still in us.

Later that day we talked about what had happened. Milo knew that he had done something wrong but he didn’t know what. As a dog he did not see his actions the same way we did. He was disciplined by both Wanda and myself but yet he was not sure what he had done wrong. As we talked he did something he has never done before. He walked to the bathroom area, turned his back to us voluntarily and sat by his food. He knew that he did not have his "pack" at the moment. We all saw, and knew, he was hurting too.

At this moment God reminded me of a well-worn, old, cliché that we had known for years, “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” Somehow, despite all the pain and anguish over the loss of one of God’s creation and anger at our ‘self’ ridden dog, God wanted us to forgive our mutt and extend love to him once again. So we forgave him, loved on him and fed him. If we had not done this the ongoing discipline would be pointless. There is nothing redemptive in staying angry. Milo wagged his tail and picked up his spirits a bit knowing that everything was going to be okay again.

This is not unlike us. God is big enough to handle our frustrations, mistakes and failures. He asks for our repentance so He can forgive and bring us back into the fold; otherwise what would be the point of the cross? Nothing. It would be wasted. We saw a parallel in what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, “For such a one this censure by the majority [which he has received is] sufficient [punishment]. So [instead of further rebuke, now] you should rather turn and[graciously] forgive and comfort and encourage [him], to keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow and despair. I therefore beg you to reinstate him in your affections and assure him of your love for him;” Even though Milo had taken an innocent life and was punished, we could not continue to punish him for his ‘self’ nature; otherwise he would be crushed. Likewise, we need the same grace when we act out of our ‘self’ nature. Many times we do not even know that what we are doing is wrong because ‘self’ has completely blinded us. We still must face the consequences of our actions but we must also have that forgiveness from God and others to restore us to fellowship.

In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character is condemned to living the same day over and over. He does many things each day; many horrible things that come from ‘self’, but each day he wakes up to relive the same day. Eventually he figures out that if he doesn’t follow ‘self’ but lives for others, he finds the day goes better. Eventually he does enough good and is released to experience a new day. Yesterday we had our own horrible groundhog day and we saw what ‘self’ does in a brutal, visceral way. Unfortunately, our dog Milo will never change but we can. We can choose to not follow ‘self’ today. We can choose not to let our ‘self’ destroy the innocent with harsh words, lies and gossip. We can choose instead to follow Jesus in faith and let him kill the ‘self’ nature in us. It is a choice. It will always be a choice. Don’t waste it.


Homer and Wanda