This past weekend, we were at the Michigan 4-H Dog Show at the MSU Pavilion in East Lansing. If you are not familiar with the Pavilion, it is the agriculture and livestock arena at MSU. While I am a Wolverine fan, I do enjoy my trips to the Pavilion, and that is probably because I don’t see a whole lot of football stuff there! Sorry, but I love the Big House! Anyway, back to the story.
Jessica’s Aussie, Sydney, is a wonderful dog. I have never seen a dog before that showed as much intelligence as she does. When you look into her eyes, you are almost positive that she understands you. We have taken to spelling things in our house because she knows what words mean and gets all excited when we don’t want her to be excited! Unfortunately, she has now been showing signs that she understand the spelling as well! There are times that we all find ourselves talking to her. I don’t mean talking to her like you would a regular dog, but a real, conversational talking! When I catch myself in that, there are times that I am almost surprised that she does not answer me. Who knows? She is still young…
If there was one thing I would change about this dog, it would be her fear. Sydney is terrified of thunder. A rumble in the sky and she is immediately shaking and panting. She will go and hide in the basement, under a bed, anywhere where she can feel like she has put something between her and the sky. We try to get her to come to us so we can console her, but nothing works. She is consumed by her fear.
When we arrived at the Pavilion Saturday, Sydney was fine. She trotted up to the building as if she was the queen of the world, ready for the show. That all changed when we got inside. The Pavilion has huge exhaust fans in the ceiling that rumble. There are very loud speakers that are constantly going off as people give information overhead. Often those people would tap the microphone, and those taps were loud booms through the building. Within 5 minutes, Sydney was reduced to a quivering, panting mess with nowhere to hide. To make matters worse, she had to go out and perform.
Jessica was discouraged and torn. Here she was, ready for the show, and full of confidence in her dog’s ability to do well, but she was conflicted seeing her baby so riddled with fear. I could tell that she wanted to stay and go home with almost equal measure. We spoke to her and tried to encourage her, but I know that she still felt miserable because her dog was miserable.
The competition began, and in the first event, while Sydney did well, all things considered. She did not place in the event, and it is an event that she almost always does flawlessly. She was just too scared to listen to Jessica. Too scared to do what she knew how to do. Too scared to just listen to her master’s encouragement and love. Too scared to anything.
Watching her, I could only think of myself in some of the situations I have faced. The fears of life begin to weigh on me. I feel the rumbling thunder of the coming storm and I begin to worry. I see the flash of lightning, and I just want to hide. The darkening skies make me knees go weak. “I can’t do this!“ I run in circles. I’m inconsolable. I pant and whine. I hear nothing but the perceived threats around me. “God, where are YOU?“
As our day wore on, Sydney began to calm a bit. She never really relaxed, but as Jessica worked with her and spoke to her and calmed her, you could see that she eventually began to come around. By the end of the day, she was still a little shaky, but she was doing a very good job in her events, and overall had her best show ever at MSU. We were proud of both of them. What made the difference? Jessica. She never left Sydney. Sydney’s surroundings never changed, just her focus. As the day went on she shifted her focus back to Jessica, and she did well.
When the skies are dark, the thunder is rolling, and I can’t see or hear God – HE IS STILL THERE! He never leaves me. He is there to give me instruction, to calm me, to encourage me, to show me His love for me. He is there to direct me and help me accomplish the task He has for me. My circumstances may never change, but when I shift my focus to Him, the rest fades. It is still there, but I am so caught up in Him that the rest of it pales and seems manageable again. It might not be comfortable, but His love compels me to keep going.
Lately I have been faced with some very hard times, and last week they came in a crushing wave that caught up with me hard. I was not aware how loud the storm had gotten until it had overwhelmed me. I felt empty, worn, and torn. I was getting good counsel, reading my Bible, and spending time in prayer. I was looking so many places for help that I couldn’t hear His voice. It finally came to me, and it was quiet when it did. It came out of left field where I did not expect it. It grabbed my heart and completely wrapped it up in His love and tenderness for me. Sometime I will write about how He did that, but this is not the time.
I am thankful for a God that never leaves. He is committed to His work in my life, and He will not give up on me until it is accomplished no matter if I am paying attention to Him or not! If God is that Relentless in His pursuit of my heart, why am I not on the edge of my seat and eyes on Him at all times? Too much of me gets in the way.
I want to be Relentless in all aspects of my life and in my relationship with God. I learned some things this past week. Being Relentless means I can’t just sit and chew on that. Relentless Growth requires me to act, to take steps, to move into that next step of maturity in Him. I’ll mess up again, but I hope that the next time I do I will recognize it earlier. I hope that I will not allow my eyes to drift from Him for too long. I hope that my ears will stay tuned to His still, small voice that leads, comforts, and encourages my soul.
Sydney was running scared in all directions. When I am scared, I want to run to my God. My Protector. My Savior, Father, & King!
Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong