A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Hannah & Spiritual Growth

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
It is said that there is always the calm before the storm.
That would assume there is calm afterwards as well.
But what if the storm never goes away?
This summer a puppy named Hannah
came to be a part of the household.
Hannah is a yellow Labrador
with eyes that will melt your heart
and a tail that continually wags with joy.
When she arrived she was 27 pounds.
In a culture where females and weight
are rarely mentioned in the same sentence,
Hannah proudly weighs forty something
headed on to seventy something.
She is ALL puppy.
In a house with 80% hardwood floors,
Hannah managed to do "puppy pees"
on the carpet 90% of the time.
Nothin' says love like a hot steam mop.
Don't even get me started on the poo poos.....
Since she is crated,
she has a safe spot to go to.
That would be a safe spot for the humans.
It didn't take long to learn
that if Hannah was freed from her crate,
there had better be a set of eyes on her at all times.
Yes, you can try to "puppy proof" a house,
but to do so,
you had better be prepared to levitate everything
a minimum of three feet off the floor.......
furniture included.
Because she is in the teething stage,
Hannah wants to chew on anything and everything.......
that would include household appliances, furniture, and most body limbs.
Oh yes, she has toys with which to play........
about a gazillion of them.
Walking across the floor is
tantamount to a soldier navigating a mine field.
Getting to the bathroom in the dark at night.......
you'd better have a mine sweeper.
Yesterday morning,
when I was the only human being in the house,
I looked at Hannah as she lay in her crate.
First mistake
In a language only spoken by dog eyes,
she wooed me to be freed.
If I was Odysseus,
she was the siren
and I was drawn into her song of deliverance
like a love starved sailor.
As I opened the gate to her freedom,
I gave her the
"do not eat the house or small children" speech.
I gave her a chew toy the size of a modest
2 by 4 piece of lumber,
thinking that would occupy her
while I went to my upstairs office to do some work.
2nd mistake
Within ten minutes,
I had to go and retrieve the following items from her mouth.......
a bedroom slipper
an aerosol can
a cd
a tv remote
a flashlight
a compact cd player
a variety of cans & bottles from the recycle bin
and a rocking chair.
After the last rescue, I needed to use the bathroom.
Upon returning, I did not shut the door.
3rd mistake
It was then that Hannah discovered
the magical world of toilet paper.
Unlike other contraband,
toilet paper makes no perceptible sound
when used as a doggie toy.
As I worked in my office,
it was fairly quiet.
No chewing sounds,
just the playful scampering of one happy pup.
All is well, I thought.
4th mistake.
Oh, she was one happy puppy.....
happily toilet papering the entire downstairs
like a Halloween prankster.
Raising a puppy requires
time, energy, and patience,
much like raising children,
except for paying college tuition
and attending games/recitals.
And like raising children,
there is no comprehensive
how-to-do-it book.
Sometimes you just learn from your mistakes.
That's how it is often with our spiritual growth.
When I think back on my maturity as a Christian,
it has more often than not,
been my mistakes rather than my triumphs
that have taught me
how to be like Christ.
Through his three denials of Christ,
Peter eventually learned how to surrender his life to God's will.
Through their desire to find a place of spiritual privilege with Jesus,
James & John eventually learned that it would require their lives.
Through his passionate persecution of Christians,
Paul learned that He would become a bearer of The Way to the world.
The storms of life and the mistakes we make can cause us to grow,
if we pay attention to them and learn from them.
No one seeks out storms or mistakes.
But if they mold us more into Christ's likeness,
how much more should we be able to learn from them,
and use them to become in practice who we are already are positionally in Christ?
I am told that Hannah will soon be going into heat.
Oh, this is going to be fun.
More lessons to be learned.
Therefore be careful how you walk,
not as unwise men, but as wise,
making the most of your time,
because the days are evil.
So then, do not be foolish,
but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17

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