DOCTORS, HOSPITALS, PETS AND FEARS, REVISITED

One of our canine daughters, Cuddles to be exact, has a problem with her feet. 

Apparently, at some time in her past, she was abused in and around her paws.  When she first arrived at our home, we tried clipping her nails and could not get her to hold still.  She violently pulled back — never snapped, but clearly was terrified.

So, we took her to the groomer’s and asked them to clip her nails.  They returned the dog to us, with one or two nails a bit shorter, but clearly not clipped as we expected, and the groomers appeared to have fought in some battle, rather than attending to her paws!  Again, she was clearly terrified.

cuddles-rin-min-pin-stance
Cuddles in her “Rin-Min-Pin” stance.

Next stop on the journey for reducing nail length was the veterinarian.  We told him that no one had been able to clip her nails and he gave us the “You poor guys, can’t even get the dog to hold still for a minute!  We’ll take care of it!” look as he carried her into the treatment area.

About 8 minutes later, a very harried vet returned carrying Cuddles.  Her nails are no shorter, and he is significantly humbled by the strength of our little MinPin.  And, as per previous encounters, she is clearly terrified.

“We were not able to calm her sufficiently to do the job”, this being a complete understatement if I had ever heard one.   He then said we had two options: 1) to bring her back on another day and have him clip and cauterise her nails under anesthesia (the expensive option) or 2) to have our limbs shredded when our skin came in contact with her paws (the cheap option).

We chose the costly option rather than experiencing Samurai sword claws when she jumps up onto our lap. She has been with us for 4 years and her fear remains as a visceral barrier to a normal pedicure.

So, is this post about our travails with Cuddles nails?  Yes, but just a bit. 

Like Cuddles, I am facing a fearful situation – another spinal surgery where 2 broken rods will be replaced and 2 more will be added in an attempt to stabilize my spine so as to alleviate additional curvature and pain.

I have had this type surgery twice and doing it again is fearful.  But, I am sure I am not alone in this.  Whether the injury is physical, psychological, mental or emotional, whether it is from the past or something you are facing in your immediate future, fear is visceral.  .

Cuddles trusts us — she, in her own doggie way, knows we would not intentionally harm her.  But her trust is not sufficient to overcome the fear that some other event had imprinted on her psyche.

Cuddles and I are different, however. I understand that perfect love casts out fear.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18

While my fear from past events knocked me down, it could not overpower my Lord and Savior. Fear of the upcoming surgery will not overwhelm me now. My Lord is sovereign and trustworthy, and I am in His hands. 

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” 

Psalm 9:10

We are repeatedly admonished in Scripture to trust the Lord.  For example, the Psalmist compares objects of trust in Psalm 20:7 where he affirms:

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

And, the writer of Proverbs says:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

The God that is described in the Old Testament as being trustworthy is the same God we serve in the New Testament body of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:8 that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

So, who do you trust when you come face to face with your fears?  Do you trust in human wits, Oprah, psychology, or tabloid suggestions? Or do you trust the Creator of the Universe, the omniscient, omnipresent God who sent His Son to be our Savior?

May we say, along with the prophet Isaiah:

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” 

Isaiah 26:4.

Father, forgive me for the myriad of times when I let my fears and insecurities rise to the surface so that they distract me from living my life in victory in the power of your Son through your Holy Spirit.  I praise You for being an everlasting rock upon whom we can trust.  I praise You, also, that You have never forsaken me even when my fears turned my eyes away from your beloved Son.  Thank You for your overwhelming love and protection, despite my fears.

 

PRAISE THE LORD

One of the things I love to do while we are camping is to sit outside in the evening/night and listen to the sounds of nature while gazing up into the heavens.   Viewing the stars, which are hidden by the city’s lights at home, is an incredible privilege.   Watching the sun set in the earth’s inexorable travel around it is mesmerizing to me.  Each second of descent below the horizon brings new colors and new beauty.

Sunset over Annandale VA 2
Sunset over Annandale, Virginia

Scripture exhorts us to praise the Lord, In fact, it further exhorts even creation to praise God.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!” 

Psalm 148:3 ESV

Sunrise (C)
Sunrise at Sea

“The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.”

Ecclesiastes 1:5 ESV

Redondo beach sunset
Sunset along Redondo Beach, California

 “And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.  And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”

Genesis 1:16-19 ESV

Super Moon  (C)
Super Moon in Mississippi.

Next time you are outside, whether at sunrise, daylight, sunset or night, look at the heavens and praise the Lord for His glorious graciousness in giving us our beautiful world.

Here is the song  “For the Beauty of the Earth” as composed by John Rutter and recorded on the album Gloria – the Sacred Music of John Rutter.  Let the beautiful tones of the hymn embrace you as you consider the glorious beauty of God’s creation.

 

 

The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”

Psalm 111:10 NASB

 

Father, thank You for making Your creation so incredibly beautiful in its majesty as well as in its finite detail.   I pray that my life would reflect the love of my Savior as the moon reflects the sun.  And may I praise Your holy Name.   I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

PEACE IN THE STORM!

We have just experienced an incredible rain deluge in the Carolinas along the Southeastern coast of the United States. According to the National Weather Service, one area of downtown Columbia, South Carolina, received nearly 17 inches of rain in 17 hours, and it was still raining. This rain was not the result of a hurricane or tornado, but the rain came from storm systems that collided and hovered over the area, dumping multiple inches of rain per hour.

Storms are not uncommon – we know that, and we depend on the rain to provide fresh water for the animals, including us, to drink and to provide water to irrigate the vegetation on our world, thereby providing food for us. Indeed, without water, we would be in real trouble, to say the least.

Storm clouds over Lookout Rock, Colorado
Storm clouds over Lookout Rock, Colorado

Even though storms are an everyday experience, even heading directly into a storm is frightening!  The power that the storm unleashes is awesome and can be unnerving. The howling wind and driving rain, along with lightning and thunder, create anxiety if not outright fear in our hearts. Severe storms occur over land and over the seas, their power is fearsome and their scope is immense.

Driving into the rainstorm in Mississippi
Driving into the rainstorm in Mississippi

Scripture tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, including the ocean or sea.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.   God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:9-10 [ESV].

Ocean storm in the distance
Ocean storm in the distance

In Psalms 24:1-2, David says: “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.[NLT]

Jesus illustrates His power throughout the Gospels of Scripture, but one of the stories that I often think of is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4. Jesus and his disciples were crossing to the other side of the sea.

Sailboat in the ocean
Sailboat in the ocean

A violent storm overtook them; in fact, it was so severe that Mark says that the waves beat into the boat so that it was full! Although I am not a marine expert, even I can understand that the situation Mark described was dire!  Imagine being in that boat, with the wind howling, the waves churning and the boat filling up with water. The expert fishermen‐now‐turned‐disciples were afraid for their very lives. This was no ordinary storm – it was fierce, they were afraid.

Ocean waves
Ocean waves

Jesus, on the other hand, was sleeping – no fear here!   When the disciples woke Him in their wide‐eyed fear, Jesus stood up and ordered the sea to be still.

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39. [KJV]

While I would have screamed at the sea, Jesus simply spoke and nature had its marching orders. Jesus essentially said “that’s enough.” He didn’t flail around waving His arms and stomping his feet. He was, at all times, in control. He simply spoke the words and directed the sea to “be still”.

It is encouraging to me to note that the sea’s response was not delayed until the storm naturally dissipated or moved away from the water. Further, the directive was not ignored. Jesus was in control: He spoke and the sea obeyed, immediately.

Rainbow in the sky after the storm on the ocean
Rainbow in the sky after the storm on the ocean

Notwithstanding the miracles Jesus had consistently been demonstrating, Scripture says that the disciples asked each other “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” Mark 4:41. [NIV] Of course, the answer to their question is that Jesus is the Creator, the One in whom we have our being, He is the Word made flesh, and He is our Savior.

When I look at the deluge of rain the Carolinas experienced this week, I am reminded that my Savior is Lord over all. He is sovereign, even over storms. I don’t know why this one attacked so fiercely, but I do believe that God is with those affected by the storm, and He will enable, sustain and encourage them if they turn to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Landscape Rainbow, Alaska
Landscape Rainbow beneath the storm clouds in Alaska

The storms and seas of this world, with their incredible expanse and surpassing power, obey Jesus’ voice. And He, through His Holy Spirit, is with me in every circumstance — His voice that calmed the sea will calm my own heart and fears. Whatever flood overwhelms me, whether it be water, problems, illness, finances or circumstance, my Lord is in control.

Trust Him ‐‐ even when you feel that your boat is sinking! His voice is still powerful! He can still say “Peace, be still.”

Father, I praise Your Name that You sent Jesus to be my Savior. Jesus, I praise Your Name that You obeyed and became the sacrifice for my sin. Holy Spirit, thank You for being with me every step of the way, and for holding me close, even in the fiercest storm.