We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
Three years ago our younger dog, Pepper, was rescued off the street, where, it soon became clear, she had developed a fondness for paper. Once rescued, she would eat dirty tissues out of the garbage can or receipts she found on a desktop. I wouldn’t doubt that my son had to tell a professor that his dog ate his homework.
Recently, for whatever reason, her tastes diversified. I found pieces of what was formerly known as my son’s plastic guitar tuning knob. I found devotionals knocked off my nightstand so she could get to the ear plugs behind them. (Yes, she ate the ear plugs.) Of course, I have no idea what she ate in entirety. Her determination to get into things exceeded our ability to keep them out of her reach.
For her safety, I realized I would have to isolate her when no one was home. She loves her crate and the back porch, so depending on the weather and how long I’ll be away, I have to put her in one of those two places. She’s not unhappy, but she doesn’t understand why she no longer has free reign over the house.
Poor Pepper isn’t very bright, so she barely understands basic commands. (As we say in the South, “Bless her heart!”) She can’t comprehend I’m simply trying to protect her because I love her and want to keep her around. In her eyes, I’m probably showing favoritism to Churchill, who always has full run of the house, and I’m being unfair.
Truthfully, Pepper is probably way smarter in relation to me than I am in relation to God. Yet somehow I still try to second-guess Him. I still question His purposes. I still doubt His heart.
Though I have called Him my master decades longer than Pepper has called me hers, I develop amnesia about His faithfulness, His love, His mercy, His ability to provide, and His grace that makes all things new.
Our good doesn’t always feel good. It’s unsettling, confining and confusing. It’s a painful reminder of our sinfulness and finiteness. Just like Pepper, I am often drawn to the things that would hurt me, forcing God to shut the door on my proverbial crate. Just like Pepper, my desire to please my Master butts against my desire to please my flesh.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me . . . Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:21, 25
In those times when I feel God shutting the door on me, I must reflect on who He is and all that He has already done. This is a matter of both personal reflection and study in the word of God. I must submit, just as I expect Pepper to submit for her protection. I must obey, just as I expect her to obey. I must trust, just as I hope she will trust. And I must wait, just as she must, for the door to be reopened.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11