Scratching the spot

Mia is our fourteen-year old, beloved family dog. She has been with my husband and me since we were newlyweds. She’s grown old and gray as our kids have grown up and active. Currently, she spends most of her time sleeping on the couch, monitoring neighborhood activity out the window, or occasionally escaping to see her best bud down the street. We love our old gal.

miawindow            miadog

About a year ago, the vet told us that Mia had become paralyzed in her back legs. We had noticed that she would drag her back feet a bit when we would take her for a walk. In the snow, you could see the imprint of her front paws and a dragged streak representing her hind steps. But she could still run and play, just slower…and maybe a bit clumsier.

We noticed another way the paralysis affected her when we scratched ‘the spot’ behind her ears. For years, our family has relished in seeing Mia’s hind leg twitch when we would successfully find ‘the spot’ on her neck that activated her scratching reflex. She’d lift and twitch her back leg while we actually did the scratching work around her collar. But now, her legs don’t feel that reflex, and she certainly can’t lift either back leg or stand on the remaining one to scratch her neck. So, we find her special spot and do the work for her, since she can’t do it herself. Her head twists to the side, her eyes get that ‘Oh my gosh…that feels sooooooo good….’ glaze over them…and there’s a little bit of ‘Thank you’ in those big brown eyes, too.

 

You know, we all have our times of being the old, crippled dog…or the loving caretaker. There are seasons in life when we find ourselves limited by our circumstances, and we need someone else to help us. Unexpected family crisis can freeze our life progress…our thoughts are locked on solving that problem, and we can’t focus on anything else. Conflict at work can be so monopolizing that we bring it home with us, and it lives in our house too, paralyzing our relationships with others. Finances, seemingly the base of our existence, can falter, leaving us standing helplessly and aching for solutions. Grief, depression, illness, transition…all stifling, limiting curses to our happy little existence. So many irritating itches, and no way to satisfyingly scratch them. We desperately need help, whether we lift up our beseeching eyes to anyone or not.

mia                               miab

We need connection with others. We need to metaphorically, or even literally, curl up on the couch with those who love us. We need to rest our head on that able body and moan, whine, wish, weep, and even snore. There has to come a time that we seek help from those who have loved us, those who have spent time caring for us, those who will love us no matter what ails us.

That said, sometimes, we will be the caregivers to our friends as well. Are we ready for that? Are we keeping ourselves emotionally and spiritually healthy? Do we lift up ourselves and our dear ones in prayer, seeking help for things that we are powerless to change? Daily, we should seek God and his merciful grace on our lives, so we are prepared to live this life he has given us. With this empowerment, we will be ready to ‘scratch the spot’ of those beloved companions who need us most.

miame

Second Corinthians 2:3-7

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Second Corinthians 7

Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

 

God and Emeril

A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning a difficulty…primarily, I was dreading how long it was going to take to make life adjustments  because of said difficulty. I was in the process of praying one of those ‘let this cup pass from me (but I know I’m just going to have to drink it anyway)’ prayers, when I had this startling and amazing revelation.

God is the God of slow, deliberate changes, but he is also the God of the immediate change.

He spoke the universe into existence. BAM!  (Genesis 1) He parted the Red Sea…totally…with dry land for the Israelites to cross. BAM!  (Exodus 14) He poured out water from a rock…a big ol’ rock. BAM! (Exodus 17:1-7) One of my personal favorites: he dropped fire out right of the heavens to burn up a water-soaked alter and offering to show he was the true God. BAM! (1 Kings 18:16-39). He brought an angel into the fiery furnace to comfort Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. BAM! (Daniel 3:1-30) Angels…a whole choir of them… sang in the dark night sky when Jesus was born. BAM! (Luke 2:8-20) Jesus blessed a boy’s small lunch and fed 5,000 people with those few morsels…multiplied exponentially…and later that night, he defied the laws of physics and walked on water. BAM! BAM! (John 6:1-21) And after Jesus’ returned to heaven, God was still getting people’s attention with bright light and a voice…and the epiphanies conversion of Saul/Paul. BAM! (Acts 9:1-22)

Oh yes, there are plenty of stories in the Bible to snuggle up with when life is dragging you through a long ordeal. Stories of people who waited years to see answers to their heart-aching pleas. Stories of arduous struggles of faith and patience and long-suffering. And our God is in those stories, in every tear, in every sighed prayer.

But he’s also a God of immediate action…instant change…impressive results. BAM! What a God we serve! What is he about to do for you!?