REDEMPTION CAN’T BE EARNED - THANK GOD!
Continued reflection about a day with God and a Dog…
Once upon a time, my teenage children brought a puppy beagle home. I wrote about it a few chapters ago. As you remember, the event caused quite a ruckus in our home, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. But before we dig into all the details, let me first fill you in on the history of dogs in my life.
As a young child living in an abusive alcoholic environment, I had a puppy that neighborhood boys stoned to death because they thought it was a rat in the bushes. This memory has always been vividly painted in my mind. I must have vowed to never love a dog again because after that, I hated dogs. Mainly, I was terrified by them. I now know I was terrified of being hurt: loving and then losing, so I stayed tough and angry. Fear has a way of doing that to us, creating such a false barrier of protection that we become imprisoned ourselves.
From the age of 7-12, I lived on and off with my grandparents, and there was an evil dog named Thore that lived down the road. He was a pitch black Husky with ice-blue eyes, and as soon as he saw me coming by on my bike, he tore through that unfenced front yard on a mission to eat my leg for lunch. I had to venture passed him every day because his house was on my way to school. His house was also on my way to the creek and to the park too; there was no avoiding this dog. I became determined, quick and resentful towards dogs and towards life.
And around that same age, I went running one day, and I was hotly pursued by two huge white Poodle dogs (not the little ones; the ones that are the size of small ponies). In my opinion, they were more like full-grown panthers! They were lean and mean as they came after me. As I ran quicker, something changed in me. It was if I was “done” with dogs harassing me. I turned and started chasing them. I had a large stick in my hand, and I was going to kill them if I had to. I started screaming like a warrior, and as soon as they saw me turn from being their prey to being their predator, they turned and ran back home, yelping like 3-week old puppies needing their mommy’s milk. I felt more powerful after that, less fearful. But the power faded. I was still scared every time I encountered a dog, especially big ones.
Then, about the time I turned 13, I saw my older brother get chased and attacked by a Doberman Pincher. The image is vivid as I remember the event. It was terrifying. My older brother was my best-friend, my protector, and my comforter as a child; I couldn’t survive without him. I felt that I was being attacked as I watched him fight off the dog and protect his neck from its jaws.
I know you are reading a repeat of what I wrote about previously, but I notice that I have continued to reflect upon this, and God has continued to teach me.
As I reflect back upon all of these dog instances, I recognize a key point, I could not save or protect myself from the fear and pain that these dogs brought with them. Sure a moment of courage might have come, but it was not long-lasting because it was done in my own strength.
I could not have prevented those things from happening. I could not keep myself from feeling all I felt in this present moment. I could not prevent the pain or save myself from the past or the present pain that was leading to healing, and nor would I want to. I wanted what God had for me. He had salvation for me when I was 14-years-old, and He had continued healing for me today.
When our children walked in with this little Beagle puppy, an unexpected surge of emotion welled up within me. I felt the intensity of years from my childhood and losses as an adult. I felt scared and I felt hopeful when I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Restoration, Renewal” as the puppy crossed the threshold of my front-door. My daughter, Faith, was holding it in her arms. Somehow I knew the threshold of the physical front-door of this current house of brick and mortar represented the threshold of my heart. I felt an unraveling take place, but I had no words as I looked at the little puppy, my heart welling up with love for it, which surprised me and scared me.
I asked God to help me with all the thoughts and emotions that surfaced with a simple gesture like a little puppy crossing the threshold of my house.
God is so kind and gracious, He simply explained that redemption can’t be earned, and that’s a good thing.
Isa 41:8“But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,
Isa 41:9I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
Isa 41:10So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
God is good all the time, and his righteous right arm is long enough to save!
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her website, https://kristinaseymour.com/. God loves to share His story of love and grace through us all, and Kristina believes that everyone has a story to tell.