This is my dog Clyde. I got him on November 15, 1994 from the Kalkaska Animal Shelter. When I got him he was just a cute little guy with a very big stink. When I got him home and cleaned him up I was very pleased with the little fuzz ball I had before me. I distinctly remember the conversation I had with Tammi regarding naming him:
Tammi: What are we going to name him?
Me: (Holding him up and looking in his eyes) His name is Clyde.
Tammi: No. That’s not a good name for such a cute puppy!
Me: (Visions of Clint Eastwood and an orangutan riding around in a pickup flashing in my mind, “Right turn, Clyde.”) Yes. His name is Clyde. He will grow into his name and it will fit him well, as he will be my buddy.
Not sure if my wife realizes that I named our first pet after an orangutan, but she will soon! He did grow into the name, and it really did fit him well. He was a great dog, and in a lot of ways still reminds me of the orangutan. Loyal, a great companion, a source of dismay and amusement. He’s been gone for about 8 years now. A good dog. One of the best. So, why am I writing to you about my old yeller dog? Well, settle in and we’ll get there.
Let’s talk about hope for minute first. Why do we hope? What does hope feel like? Why do we need it? Is it really that valuable? I think it is. We hope because deep down we know our own limitations. We have an innate knowledge that we are not able to do all things. We come up against challenges and struggles that bring us pain, hold us down, and we don’t know what to do about them, how we are going to get through them or why we are in them. That is where hope comes in.
Hope gives us that little bit to do one more day. It tells us we can handle it one more time. It is that little push in the back of the mind that says, “I’m going to make it.” So important when you feel you are at the end of your strength, abilities, understanding. We recently lost an icon in Robin Williams. At the end of it all, he had no more hope. I am not discounting the reality of depression as an illness. It really is, and while medication can be used to combat it, at the end of the day the medication allows people to deal with their depression well enough that they can hang on to that all important thing. Hope. Hope is a very powerful thing, and we need it for life, but we also need it for beyond.
So, back to Clyde. He was a good dog that spent most of his time around the house, but like any animal that is allowed to run free (we live in a very rural area), he would wander out from time to time to see what he could see. Sometimes he would come home with a treasure of some sort: a chunk of a dead deer, a dead bird, and unrecognizable piece of dead something, or just an overwhelming stench from the dead something he had found to roll around in. It never mattered to him. He had been out experiencing life, and he was happy.
One day, he came home with something different. He had found a porcupine, and you guessed it, he had a muzzle full of quills. Not a happy dog. It was weird that when I first saw him he looked so ashamed of himself. He was whining and definitely felt miserable. He came to me, full of pain and his eyes were pleading for help.
So, we did the only thing you can do. We went to the garage and got the pliers and I went to work on him. I don’t remember how may quills we had to pull, but I do remember that near the end, he was losing his patience with the entire operation. He never bit or growled at me, but he was whining louder and definitely was showing that he wanted to be anywhere but where he was.
What I remember the most though was his eyes. He just kept looking at me with those big brown eyes. I am not a person that looks at animals as human beings. They are not humans. I don’t believe they are capable of emotions in the way that humans are. I say that, but at the same time, I can say that in his eyes there was a mixture of fear and pain that was combined with a love, trust, and resignation to the process. It was like he knew that with every quill I pulled, as painful as it was; he was getting closer to feeling good again. As I talked to him and stroked his head, he trusted me in the process.
I recently finished a devotional series by Oswald Chambers on hope. In that study he said something that reminded me of this moment with my old yeller dog. He said,
“Have you ever had to do something to a pet dog in order to get it well, something that hurt it very much – pulled a thorn out of its foot, or washed a wound, or anything of that sort? If so, you will remember the expression of dumb eloquence in the eyes of the dog as he looked at you; what you were doing hurt him tremendously and yet there seemed to speak from his eyes such a trust of you as if he would say, ‘I don’t in the least understand what you are doing, what you are doings hurts, but go on with it.’” That is an apt illustration of “suffering according to the will of God.”
Clyde looked at me with eyes that were in pain and not understanding the why of the situation. He knew he had done something that seemed right, then not so much, but the thing he had done wrong was gone, why was he still hurting? All he really knew was who to turn to.
I’ve had trials in the last several years, and there have been times I have felt the same way. Hurt from my actions, from the actions of others, and sometimes hurt that I couldn’t even understand where it was coming from. I would try to take care of it myself, but that didn’t work, and eventually I would go to the One who could help me. God.
Sometimes those conversations went well, but other times I could not understand what He wanted me to do. I would whine and I would thrash, but in the end, I knew that what I needed was in Him. Staying close to Him was my way out. Only by staying close to Him would I hear His calming words, be reassured by His people, have the sins in my life revealed and forgiven. It wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but it always brought the result that I needed… HOPE!
The hope that I have as a result of my relationship with Christ is two-fold.
1. I have a hope for life.
“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27:13
This is that hope that Clyde demonstrated in me. This is the hope that we experience from knowing God will be there for us. We can trust His Word and the promises in it that tell us we will be okay. This is talking about the struggles we face and how as we stay close to God we will see our perspective of things come closer to His and we can see His hand at work. Sometimes we see it in hindsight, but He is always faithful to do His work.
2. I have a hope for eternity.
“For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
We need a hope that takes us past life too. If all there is in life is what we see, then we are in dire straights indeed. God sent His Son to help us reach an eternal destination where we can have our relationship with Him be what it was intended to be. He sent His Son to die for us so we could have that hope. Real Hope! A Hope that is Relentless is the life of the Christian. A Hope that rages against Satan’s lies that will pull us down and make us ineffective or feeling empty.
Do you have that Hope today? I want that for you. God wants that for you. I don’t know how you can go through life without it. I know you don’t want to go through eternity without it.
Relentless Living is being willing to do the hard thing when it hurts because you have the hope that God is doing something good through the pain. That He sees farther than you see, and that His methods will work for your good. Those promises are in His Word, and they are vital to the life of a believer.
If you want to know how to have that hope, I would love to talk to you about it. There is nothing better than having that hope.
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Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong