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Nothing There

Okay, so in my first blog “Stray Dog” I pointed out we get strays in abundance. Well, a seed from that abundance has landed again. Which has gleamed insight on walking life out in faith.

Our house is situated a distance off from the road. There is a long, red dirt path lined with trees that leads up to an older, white frame, two story house. Mostly, when people let their dogs go on our street, it’s at the end of our driveway. Filled with anxiety the dogs stay in one location, not even trying to get past the gate that blocks trespassers.

They stay in that area for three days. Believing their former owner will turn back for them. Then reality sinks in, along with the stomach cramps of starvation, and they act on finding food and a place to reside.

img_1545-1Although, this time the story is slightly different.

After three days, the stray dog still had not moved to find her way to the house. It is summer in Texas, with temperatures passing 100 degrees. I grew concerned that the dog would become dehydrated. The images of her never moving from there appeared in my mind. She will starve herself to death waiting on her previous masters. I could not figure out why she would not join us at our home.

Baffled.

When we get out to retrieve the mail or newspaper we talked kind to her. Petted her. Told her to follow us. She would get excited to visit us. Wag her tail. She seemed as if she knew we were for her.

I could not take it anymore I gathered up food and water. Walking to where she was. As my daughter presented her the food, she ate it in record time. Afterwards, she lapped up the water as if she had nothing for days. I felt this would alter her judgment about walking to our house.img_1554-1

Nevertheless, after a couple days she still had not come.

In my heart, I knew if she would move up the driveway to take notice of the house, pond, and the other dogs she would give up that area.

I ended up taking food down there to show her the way to the house with a food trail. I reached my hand out to her, let her sniff the dog food, patted her, and reassured her how good of a dog she was. Laid a handful of food down for her to eat. After she ate, I gently stroked her fur, reminding her I was proud of her. I stepped distances in front of her in the direction towards the house, placing more food down. We continued this for a limited time. Going away from the gate. She would turn her head around, gaze at the gate. Reason about traveling back. Glance at me. Think twice about the food, and continue with what we were carrying out. We advanced half way down our driveway with food still in my hand. I perceived we would reach the house and she would understand how great it was to stay. Instead, half way down, at the curb, she turned around and walked toward the gate.img_1559-2

I guessed it was too soon. Saying, “Tomorrow I will attempt it again.” The following day I tried again. The results were the same. I questioned why she chooses to return to a place that was empty. No food, water, or people to give her love.

On one occasion, I observed underneath her that it was obvious she had puppies. I simply concluded she was a mom wanting her babies. Therefore, she could not give up the chance of returning to them. She had to get back for when the former owners returned.

One time, as I was working on getting her to the house, I watched her keep turning her head looking back. Finally, she gave into her thoughts and walked away from the house and back to the gate. In this picture before me was a display of God extending His love to us, and we decline it to go back to a point that is empty.img_1556-2

God will present a way He desires us to follow. Through the path, what is to come is unclear. All that is in our view is a dirt road and trees. God sees we need encouragement along with some cheerleaders to follow this route. He surrounds us with individuals just loving on us. Cheering us on. Telling us we can do it. Being there when we are at our weakest and fear has taken the greatest of us. People feeding us when we cannot provide for our self. On the trail, we stop. We turn our head and look behind. Then we glance forward. In that split second, we convince our self to return to the past because people and things are waiting on us. If we don’t go back, we will miss them when they show up. Therefore, we walk back to what is familiar, presuming the existence of something is still there. Only to realize, emptiness is all that is waiting for us.

In Ezekiel 20:6 ESV God informs us He will lead us out of the land of Egypt (our former ways not of God), into a land that is beyond what we have experienced.

“On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands.”

He does not just show us this is Ezekiel He assures us in:

Exodus 3:8

Jeremiah 32:22

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

Exodus 3:17

God informs us that this land, that we cannot see, is abundant in love. A lifestyle of richness, not necessary rich as one might imagine with wealth. Instead waking up excited to face the day. When somebody claims something offensive to you, your joy responses in compassion. The most glorious of all the lands. If I dwell in a place where people and the environment bring me down, it indicates it will be greater. If I remain in a place that I come up empty, with the people I hang with or the places I go, the new location will enhance my fullness. A place I remain satisfied and content. Where I hang around people or go places that have me overflowing with goodness.

Reflecting on how this dog prefers returning to a place of emptiness it leads me to pray for God to search me. When I am walking forward in faith but I turn to look back believing there is something there waiting on me. Finding any state of emptiness in me. Asking God to provide the courage to cling to what He has declared. Coming into what God has that is “the most glorious of all lands”, an area beyond my imagination.

Prayer: Dear Lord, when I cannot make out what is ahead and the suffering of where I am speaks louder than your promises. I ask that you quiet the voices of pain and bring in remembrance Your Word, giving me strength like I never have had. So, I can overcome the battle, walking fiercely towards all you have sworn. In Jesus Name, Amen

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. If you are unsure where to start here are questions to help you get going:

  1. Do you have a suggestion for the dog’s name in the picture?
  2. Do you believe God keeps His promises? Is there an area in your life God has promised you one thing but you return to something contrary to what He has said?
  3. Is there an area in your life that you are trying to walk forward but you keep looking back, thinking if you do not stay you will miss out? Explain.

 

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Breaking Out

Breaking Out

Life brings different adventures that await us. One of the hardest parts is to break out of what we are accustomed to and into the path we desire. We can see the experience and the opportunities shining with excitement. The kid in us prefers to reach for it in a blink of an eye. But inside are all those voices of reason that have influenced us while growing up, holding us back.

The butterfly metamorphosis is reference repeatedly in Christianity.  A caterpillar that lives in a cocoon of transformation and afterwards breaks out a beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar representing your past and the butterfly representing your new life. th (7)

In my beginning years of giving my life up to Christ, it was a story I held onto. At times, I thought I would be in the cocoon for the rest of my life.  I was convinced once I burst out of the cocoon the story was over. My beautiful wings would stretch out and I would take off into what God had. However, time has taught me the story of the butterfly is never ending and each event I get a different outlook.

Recently, God put me in a position where it seemed as if I was in a box, a cocoon you could say. At first, I did not understand until He closed doors and there I sat by myself with just me and God. A place where my finances remained at bare minimum. No work. No income except child support. A situation I was not prepared for.

Aware of what was ahead I took the measures needed to go after what the future
required, simply to come up empty. Okay, I got knocked down. I got up,
suggesting God had something else in mind.

I paid impressive money to pursue the job of my dreams. I laid all my fears down to
apply for positions I was qualify for.  Although I did not understand how I would blow
the interviewer out of their chair to declare, “Yes! She is the one.” Only to sit
three months afterwards with nothing but declining letters from companies in my hand.

This taking place during the time of year that is fun and relaxing. Summer. You know when people are on vacations. Family and friends by the pool. Sleepovers and attending late night movies.

th (9)Well, life circumstances have felt like the climate of summer. It has been hot. The only rain falling is what you produce from your eyes, called tears. When all you can look at is dirt, it creates a large amount of uncertainty in you and you grab at different possibilities. You pray, but when the answers don’t come, you answer the prayer yourself. Realizing you took a bunch of risk but nothing came from it. Then you begin the mental process of recollecting your mistakes.

If I had not spent . . . on that idea I would have . .  . more money than I do now.

               If I had managed my time better, I would be 10 more steps ahead of the idea I am working on now.

                If . . . (You fill it in.)

It’s easy to fill in our failures with “ifs” as we tear apart our worth.th (8)

Then you hear that one thing in which can only come from God alone and it reignites you. You take that small flame while carrying your failures and “ifs” and you march toward God stronger than you every have, believing there is more.

Y’all this has been my summer.

What amazes me in the process of what I regard as so awful is it took God to bring me to this point to go after my desires.

A movie that speaks encouragement to continue after my dreams is “Pursuit of Happyness”. The film with Will Smith where he lived in the slums of San Francisco and had nothing. His wife abandoned him because the situation became too much. The situation led him to find determination like he never had. It was at his lowest that caused him to chase after something so many would consider impossible.

Check out the trailer here:

When we watch movies, our emotions get so caught up in the goodness of what is transpiring that our emotions dance a lovely picture. They make us miss the aches and pains it takes to break us out of generational ways of thinking. In those desperate moments when the tears are falling, creating puddles, it can be one of the most beautiful
times in our life. A time of just you and God. Allowing God to tear down the barriers keeping you bound from a place you never imaged to be or do. A point where we give into the fear ceasing and faith arising. Grabbing faith’s hand as we consent to God pulling us up and telling us what to do.

In the comment section below share your thoughts over what your read. Here are some questions to help you get going:

Has fear ever kept you from what you desired? If so how did you overcome?

How do you handle when God has you in a summer season so you do not lose, or give up on, your faith?

Is there something God is calling you to but you remain in a box that you need to break out of? Explain.