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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - When Life Stinks

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.

If it smells like a rat, then it is a rat.
But what if it smells worse?

While eating breakfast, I was reminded  what day it was….
MARCH 15.     

Not any March 15, but the tenth anniversary of “my tribulation.”

Ten years ago, I had just come home from work around 10pm.
In those days, my mother would keep my dog, Juggernaut, while I was away.

Upon arriving home, I would call my mother, and she would let Juggernaut out
and he would scamper within thirty seconds up the hill to my home.

I was eagerly anticipating the next day. 
First, it was my day off.
Secondly, for this snow lover, a late winter nor’easter was predicted to arrive in the morning.
Thirdly, the March madness basketball tournament was underway

It was going to be the best day off  ever.   Snow, non-stop basketball. I couldn’t wait.

After I called my mother, I opened the door so Juggernaut could come in.
I went to get a glass of water and heard my dog enter the house.
In unusual fashion, he began running throughout the house, instead of greeting me.

Within seconds, I smelled it.
The house smelled like burning tires.
I ran to see what was causing it and then I realized……
Juggernaut had been skunked.

Within seconds, every inch of my house was like a toxic waste dump.
every piece of fabric…….furniture, carpets, clothes, all reeked of skunk.

I grabbed my frantic dog and took him to the shower for what was to become  exorcism attempt #1.
40 minutes of scrubbing and rinsing.
A vile black secretion of skunk rolled off him.

There is only one thing worse than the smell of a skunked dog,
and that would be the smell of a wet, skunked dog.

My dog was no longer my friend, but my adversary.
I had met the beast and after 40 minutes of shampoo, the beast was mocking me.

I tried to sleep that night,  but the human brain has a way of waking you up to inform you
that you are inhaling toxic fumes. 
On the beginning of my Best Day Off Ever (BDOE), I got three hours of sleep.

Early morning on BDOE, I called Juggernaut’s groomer.
He suggested a skunk shampoo that he had.
That was a 15 minute drive on now snow packed roads.

8am    Exorcism attempt #2
The beast looked at my bottle of skunk shampoo and laughed.
No effect.

I googled “skunked dog remedies” and found “tomato juice.”

8:45am   Exorcism attempt #3
To those who are novices to de-skunking dogs, let me say
that all tomato juice does is it make dogs pink.
The beast had a name and his name was legion.
He had no intention of leaving my house.

Next on-line remedy,  “hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing detergent.”
9:30am  Exorcism attempt #4
Another 40 minutes with the beast in the shower.
He barked at me and the translation was, “You have no power over me.”

Back to the internet, One final solution………..
“feminine hygiene products.”

Oddly enough, this single male had none of that in his home.
At 10:30am on BDOE, I trekked to the local supermarket through a now blinding snowstorm.
I grudgingly walked up to the cashier with 6 boxes of “the product,” 
stared deep into her eyes and growled, “Don’t even ask.”

11:15am Exorcism attempt #5
Oddly enough, this product had an effect on the beast, for a few hours.
But my house still smelled like the very pit of the beast’s abode.

The beast left me with no choice.

On March 15, 2006, (my BDOE)
during a nor’easter,
while it was 30 degrees,
I turned off the furnace,
opened every window and door in the house,
turned on every fan that I had,
put on my winter coat,
cross ventilated my house, 
and in my sleep deprived state, watched college basketball,
and of course, my team lost.

Sometimes, what you hope for is not what you get.
My Best Day Off Ever turned into a nightmare year.
It was not till December of that year that the smell of skunk 
was completely removed from my dog and home.

We all have bad days and seasons in our lives.

If you are one who walks by faith with Christ,
know that He has a Word for these days and seasons,
and that Word is peace.

It is a peace that transcends any tribulation,
which means grievous trouble or severe trial and suffering.
The promise of peace is a bold promise by the One who always keeps His promises.

We should expect tribulation  
Jesus didn’t warn us if it would come, but that it would come.

But here is the good news.
While Jesus spoke these things in light of His second coming,
He said that while we wait for that day,
we can find peace through Him while we endure the world.

A skunked house is one thing.
How about wars, famine, natural disasters, scary political elections, and genocides?
On a more personal level:  divorces, abusive relationships, disease, addictions, and joblessness.
Name your tribulation. 

But  don’t let it end there. 

Let your naming move you to claiming.
Claim the peace that Christ has for you while you go through your tough times.
That is His promise to you.  
And because He is greater than any tribulation, He is able to deliver on the promise of peace.

The same cannot be said for skunk shampoo or tomato juice. Trust me.

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.
in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart,
I have overcome the world.”
                                                John 16:33

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