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.

 

COMMANDED TO LOVE

 

Love is a hot topic in our world every day.  We speak of “falling in love” or “having lost my love” as if love is something that just happens, whether we want it to or not.  While the concept of marriage is under incredible attack in today’s world, love is still a hot topic.

 

We read in the tabloids of love between two people and then, one paragraph later, we read of the separation of two others.  We celebrate the many years of marriage of one couple while we are hurting for another couple going through separation and dissolution of their marriage

 

Then, too, as parents, we love our children.  And, as adults, we love our children and their children, and we love our parents, and miss them when they are gone.

Alice, Harold and Linda (C)
My Mother and Father reading my Golden Book, circa 1950

 

And, if we look carefully, there even are times when our children love each other!

USED Brother and Sister
Siblings showing affection, at least one is!
USED Brother and infant sister (C)
Brother giving baby sister some “love”.

 

While the children may not be as demonstrative as they get older, loving sibling relationships are precious.

 

We say that we love flowers.

USED Flower garden
Beautiful flower garden.

 

We love food.

Chocolate covered strawberries
Anyone for some chocolate covered strawberries!

 

We love to travel and take vacations, like a cruise going to faraway places in style.

USED Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship
The Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, seen from a distance.

 

And, it goes without saying, we love our pets.

USED Skipy hiding under the bed
Skippy, our Lhasa Poo, peeking out from under the bed, gave us 18 blessed years..

 

USED Goldie on sofa in rv
One of our retired racing greyhounds, Gold E Locks, otherwise known as Goldie, graced us with her presence for 11 years.  She loved riding on the sofa in the RV.

 

And now we have our two canine MinPin daughters, Snickers and Cuddles.

USED Snickers wishing camera flash would stop
Snickers in dreamland on her favorite blanket.

 

USED Cuddles and her boy (C)
Our grandson and Cuddles, sound asleep, with just a little doggie grin, next to him, because he is  “her boy!”

 

Our love for people, animals, objects and activities is a love that is conditioned on various factors.  We love those related to us in a different way than we do our generalized acquaintances.  We love some flowers and not others, and some like to eat lobster and others wouldn’t touch it!  In other words, there is self-motivated volition involved in our love of things and others.

 

In stark contrast, this is not how we are to love our God.  We are COMMANDED to love the Lord our God, and not just a little bit or for a limited time!

 

In Deuteronomy 6:5 we read:

 

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

 

That essentially covers everything!  It is repeated elsewhere in the Old Testament, for example:  Deuteronomy 11:1 and 13:3, and Joshua 22:5.

 

We cannot shrug our shoulders and mumble, “Yeah, but that was okay thousands of years ago, not for us 2016!”  Rather, Jesus reiterated that this was still a commandment for us in Matthew 22:37 when He repeated these exact words.  But Jesus didn’t stop there — not only are we to follow the command in Deuteronomy, Jesus expanded it in Mark 12:29-31 by commanding us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

 

Jesus takes love out of the mental/spiritual world and puts it into the physical/material world.   This turns love into action, not just thought or emotion.  We see our neighbor and we are to love him/her.

 

Loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves means to serve others as Jesus Christ exampled for us, as He lived, and as He died in complete obedience to His Father.  We surely cannot live a sinless life and comply with God’s will in all things as He did, but we can keep His commands on a day to day basis as we are enabled by the Spirit.  We can love God; we can read His Word; we can meet with fellow believers and worship Him regularly; we can love others, if for no other reason than because He tells us to do so.

 

Note that our obligation to love our neighbor does not depend on whether the neighbor is either lovely or loveable – it is a command to Jesus’ followers that has no qualification as to the one being loved.  It is between us and the Lord.  “If you love me, keep my commands.”  John 14:15.

 

There is no wriggle room. It is an “if … then” statement.  If you love me, then you will keep my commands.  Or, stated another way, if you do not keep my commands, then you do not love me.

 

This is not optional – it is not a suggestion.  It is a direct command that indicates whether

  • I do or do not love my Lord and Savior,
  • I will or will not allow His Spirit to guide my steps through the day,
  • I will or will not follow His direction.

 

If I say that I am His, do my actions support my statement or do they undermine it?

 

What about you?  Prayerfully consider these questions and seek the Lord’s face as you look at your life, your speech, your actions, your thoughts, your motives, etc.

 

“If you love me, keep my commands.”   Am I one of His disciples or not?   Are you?

 

Everything depends on the answer to that question!

 

Father, I pray that the meditation of my heart is acceptable to you this day.  I pray that your Word would be used by the Spirit to illuminate the hearts of those who do not know You.  I pray that you would forgive me when I have failed to love You with my whole heart, soul and might.  Thank you for calling me to Yourself through the atoning work of your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

OUR CREATOR GOD — THE HOLY ONE.

Scripture tells us at the very beginning of Genesis that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. The six days of creation are all itemized in Chapter 1 of Genesis.

Light — and the light was good.

Dry land and the seas– and God saw that it was good.

Colorado mountains, where earth and sky collide.
Colorado mountains, where earth and sky collide.
Oregon ocean waves and beach.
Oregon ocean waves and beach.

Vegetation, plants and trees – and God saw that it was good.

Yosemite Giant Sequoia Trees
Yosemite Giant Sequoia Trees

Lights in the heavens – and God saw that it was good.

Super Moon in Mississippi.
Super Moon in Mississippi.

All creatures that move, in the sea and in the air – and God saw that it was good.

Hummingbird getting a drink for nourishment.
Hummingbird getting a drink for nourishment.
Florida Spiny Lobster seen in aquarium along Florida's coastline.
Florida Spiny Lobster seen in aquarium along Florida’s coastline.

All beasts of the earth and all that creep on the ground – and God saw that it was good.

Caribou with large rack in Denali National Park, Alaska.
Caribou with large rack in Denali National Park, Alaska.
Pet pooches are under His care too!
Pet pooches are under His care too!

Then, in Genesis 1:26-27, and 31, God said:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Everything that He had made was very good. Simply put, God’s creation is good and it gives glory to its Creator.

Looking at the creation of God, it is clear that beauty is an attribute of the Creator God. David speaks of it like this:

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4 [ESV]

God’s desire for beauty is also expressed in Exodus 28:2 where God is telling Moses what garments the priests were to wear when conducting worship before Him even in the wilderness tabernacle.

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. [ESV] (The emphasis is mine)

A review of the construction of the tabernacle is way beyond the scope of this post, but it was clearly a pinnacle of beauty, shining with gold, bronze, silver, precious jewels for the objects to be used in worship, and even for the thread used to create the curtains. The directions were explicit and detailed, and they were dictated by God. Beauty is an attribute of our Creator. Read Exodus Chapters 25 through 40 and see the incredible detail God directed for the construction of His tabernacle.  Then remember where it was built — in the wilderness.  Clearly, this was not the most beautiful of places, but His tabernacle was to be beautiful because it was to reflect our God and one of His attributes, beauty.

Beautiful music and singing are also part of God’s creation and an expression of His beauty.   Way back when David was king, we read that he appointed the priests to sing a song of thanksgiving to God. Read 1 Chronicles 16 aloud, to yourself or anyone else who would listen, and your spirit will be lifted as you, through David’s words so long ago, praise the Lord for His wondrous works. Verse 10 of this chapter directs that we are to “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”

This past Monday evening, we were blessed to attend a concert sponsored by Ligonier Ministries for the performance of sacred music entitled “Glory to the Holy One.”  The concert was held in Nashville, Tennessee.

Downtown Nashville at night.
Downtown Nashville at night.

The venue was the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a beautiful building that is dedicated to the symphony.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee
The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee

The building was beautiful with marvelous craftsmanship evident throughout.

Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Inside the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee
The symphony platform was ready.
The symphony platform was ready.

Of course, the acoustics were incredible. The choir was extraordinary and the symphony was wonderful. But the music touched your soul, heart and mind.

The choir and symphony ready for the music to begin.
The choir and symphony getting ready for the music to begin.

Our seats were much closer to the musicians than I anticipated … we were IN the music, not just listening to it! This picture was taken while we were sitting in our chairs.

Superlatives are inadequate to describe the event. The words to the hymns were written by Dr. R.C. Sproul and the music was composed and conducted by Jeff Lippencott. Tears streamed more than once as God’s glory was extolled in music and singing. The words to the hymns were beautiful and poignant, detailing the journey of faith and culminating when we see Jesus face to face.  Here is one of the hymns entitled The Secret Place, the words are below the link for your reference.

Excerpt from music on soundtrack of GLORY TO THE HOLY ONE

Who dwells within His most secret place

Is never far from His blessed grace

‘Neath His great shadow all will be well

No better place now for us to dwell

 

Refrain

The secret place of God Most High

The shadow of our mighty King

The dwelling place where angels cry

Is where our praise will forever ring

 

Fear not the terror that comes at night

Nor flaming arrows by morning light

His truth is always our sword and shield

Against His power, all foes must yield

 

Refrain

 

A thousand fall now at ev’ry side

Ten thousand more may have yet to die

Yet plague and sword can

Ne’er kill the soul

His angels guard us now safe and whole

 

Refrain

 

Refuge and fortress for all who trust

No safer pasture for men of dust

‘Neath wings and feathers of Holy Lord

No great comfort can He afford

 

Refrain

 

I pray that these words and the music will be a blessing to you this day.

Father, thank you for the gift of music and for the talents of those who can create, compose, sing and perform such magnificent works to your glory and honor. I thank you too for the truth of the words of this hymn. No safer place can find us than when we are in your care, now and forevermore.