Ahhh, the holidays are upon us. For my family (and I’m sure for many of yours) it means a lot of hustle and bustle. We are pretty close with extended family and the Thanksgiving/Christmas rounds mean that we have quite a few dinners to attend. Thankfully, the vast majority of them live in or around Boone County within a 30 mile radius. Often times we block out a 4 day period from our schedule and just go stay with family, which means we get to bring our dog, Vader, along. This would be an easy task if Vader were a lap dog, or as I like to call them, a barking mop. However, Vader is a Black Lab/German Shepherd mix and will turn 1 this spring. He is beautiful and strong, loves to chew on anything he can get his jaws on, and enjoys knocking my kids over as they run through the yard. He is clumsy and lovable and Caleb loves to climb on him and Vader just lets him.
Whenever we go stay with family, the dog usually has to stay outside or in the garage because not everyone is keen to the idea of having pets in the house. And if I’m going to be honest, a dog the size of Vader needs the room to run and play anyways. They only problem with that… when we go to new places, Vader likes to explore, and too often we get phone calls from disgruntled neighbors because Vader is crashing their party, chewing up their hoses, chasing their horses, etc. Vader also likes to stand in the middle of the road and say hello (with his tail wagging) to all the kind people driving by and slowing down to a near stop, honking their horns in anger. I’m not sure they understand each other.
In an attempt to keep the peace between my parents/in-laws and their neighbors, we bought a 30 ft leash to let him play on outside while providing a place close enough for shade and shelter and even toys/bones to chew on. One such time we had left to go to the store and run errands and returned to find that this wonderful idea wasn’t such a wonderful idea to Vader. He had wrapped himself 3 or 4 times around the legs of the trampoline and tangled his own legs in the mess. As I am attempting to untangle this mess, I found myself getting frustrated at Vader because he had made a mess of that which was supposed to protect him, keeping him from becoming a pancake or getting shot by an angry neighbor. I even provided a safe area with things to chew on until his heart was content. Then it hit me. This is me. I was reminded of a passage of scripture.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
God gives us gifts in life. Gifts that are meant for us to enjoy life, His presence and drive us to Him in gratefulness as the provider and protector. Too often, those gifts become our focus. They distract us from Him and we become more focused on the gift than the giver. Think about it. What are the things we become obsessed with? Family, success, food, sex, money, health, you name it. They all are gifts from God that can become objects of obsession and end up pulling us away from Him and tangling us up. It’s hard to get mad at the dog when I see myself acting more like Vader than allowing myself to be conformed to the image of Christ. Let’s fix our eyes on Him.
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