We have a dog whose name is Buddy. He’s a great dog, a dachshund. He’s friendly with us and a good guard dog because he’ll bark at strangers. He’s pretty intimidating for a wiener dog, you don’t normally think of them as protectors, because he’s medium sized and he’s really muscular. That’s all good.
Buddy has developed a bad habit, though. He goes into the back yard to take care of business and he hunts. He’s found moles and killed them, he found a snake and killed it; that’s all fine, no problem. He’s also found turtles and tried to kill them. We like turtles. The other day, he actually caught a blue jay at our bird feeder. I was shocked because birds are pretty fast, skittish, and hard to catch. I rescued the bird and sent Buddy into the house but it was clear the poor blue jay was hurt. It couldn’t fly.
Wanting to help, I reached down to pick it up. This caused it great stress and it started screeching. I tried to calm it down by stroking its back but when I tried to pick it up, it bit me. It didn’t hurt at all but it surprised me. It was obvious the bird didn’t understand.
That’s the way we are sometimes. God tries to do things to help us but we don’t understand His ways and His cure seems threatening to us.
I’ll be 50 this coming January. I’m just starting to feel my age a little bit. There are things starting to hurt that didn’t before, my energy isn’t quite as high, I can tell things are just a little different. That’s hard. But I know that those things are preparing me for something better. My body has to wear down so that, eventually, I can be made new by God for all of eternity. It’s hard to understand and sometimes I feel like that Blue Jay, it doesn’t make sense and it’s frightening.
I know, though, that God can be trusted and He wants to help me. I know that God loves me and all of us and His ways, though we don’t understand them, are always best.
There is a verse in Jeremiah that talks about this idea of trusting God because He wants to do good for us. It’s a verse commonly used at graduations because it talks about the future. It speaks to all of us, though, about God’s plan for every one of us no matter what stage of life we’re in. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
God has plans to do good things for us. He does not want to bring pain or disaster on us. His plans for us are to do well, not to bring us harm. That’s a verse we need to remember. The problem is that we, like that Blue Jay, don’t always recognize His plans. We don’t understand why certain things happen to us or why God doesn’t intervene in a certain situation. We want God to get rid of all our pain but He doesn’t work that way. He knows that isn’t what’s best for us. Sometimes we need to struggle in order to reach the next phase of our spiritual growth.
Cathe and I were married when we were 19 and 18. It was a struggle being married that young. We had a lot of growing up to do together. Those struggles made us stronger and brought us to the next place God wanted us to be. It was hard and we didn’t always understand but God had plans to help us and he did even though we didn’t recognize it.
God brings us to the place he wants us to be. It can be a painful journey, like suffering the effects of our bodies wearing down so that we can be prepared to meet Him in eternity. We can trust that He will help us no matter what and that His plans for us will bring us good.
I was talking with an older gentleman who was telling me how blessed he was by God. He explained how God had been with him in so many occasions during his life and he was so grateful for what the Lord had done for him. His comments were so sincere. God had obviously been very active in this man’s life and he was grateful for that. He looked back on his life and saw where God had been helping him even during the hardest of times. He recognized God’s handiwork even though he didn’t understand it at the time. God was always with him.
God does this for everyone who trusts Him.
Rob Morton is minister of First Christian Church Middlesboro. Contact him at [email protected]