Pause for a Moment ūüźĺ

Permit me to poke fun at an¬†internal conflict¬†I’m¬†having.¬†¬†Yes,¬†I know¬†it’s¬†laughable, but it¬†also¬†relates to¬†real¬†issues¬†everyone¬†has¬†when¬†considering¬†faith¬†in God¬†and¬†following forward¬†with¬†God¬†in life…

I’m about to become a¬†dog grandparent¬†to a ridiculously cute puppy¬†that will reside¬†a mere 2 hours away.¬†¬†Periodic¬†visits and occasional¬†overnighters are certainly in our/my future.¬† I’m¬†not sure I’m ready¬†for this.¬†¬†You may¬†be¬†thinking,¬†“Come on Steve, get a grip!”¬† But¬†before¬†judging me,¬†you¬†should know¬†I have a past,¬†a history¬†with pets¬†that’s¬†far from¬†stellar,¬†which gives me¬†pause¬†for the future, not paws!

My sister was the warm-hearted, lover¬†of pets in¬†our family.¬†¬†I was¬†¬†distant,¬†except for¬†teasing¬†the¬†cat and¬†causing¬†a “turtle incident.”¬†¬†It vanished¬†on my watch¬†while it¬†bathed in¬†the¬†kitchen¬†sink, leaving¬†only¬†wet tracks on the¬†counter.¬† Many years later, we discovered¬†its¬†grim, dried skeleton¬†behind¬†the¬†broken¬†dishwasher.

Marriage and family¬†didn’t improve¬†my pet¬†track record.¬† Even though¬†I¬†enjoy¬†other people’s dogs,¬†I have carelessly insulted the dogs of two¬†family¬†friends in the past.¬†¬†With¬†Dog 1,¬†I spoke about its unique face with,¬†“You must be really¬†loving¬†people.”¬† Message 1,¬†“Your dog’s ugly.”¬†¬†With¬†Dog 2,¬†I called it,¬†“Rotundy.”¬† Not the dog’s actual name.¬†¬†Message 2,¬†“Your dog is very overweight.”¬†¬†I know, but I told you I had a¬†past and¬†history¬†littered with failures.¬† What if this¬†reoccurs?

Both times, my wo‚Äčrds¬†revealed a critical spirit¬†that had¬†lost¬†touch¬†with¬†God’s grace¬†in Christ.¬† It wasn’t the dogs at all;¬†it was¬†within me!¬† Years ago, a mentor said, “When life turns up the heat, it bubbles to¬†the¬†surface¬†junk already there.¬† Jesus can help you¬†own¬†&¬†deal¬†with¬†it,¬†rather than just deflect blame elsewhere.”¬† Wise advice!

So, regarding¬†critical spirits…¬† Left unchecked they¬†diminish joy¬†(like a¬†fleeing refugee)¬†and¬†elevate the critic¬†in their own mind¬†(like an occupying oppressor).¬†¬†Not good at all (Ukraine, Russia parallels intended)!¬†¬†Thankfully,¬†my God-given¬†friends¬†showed me more grace than deserved, which¬†helped¬†me¬†see myself¬†more honestly¬†reconnect¬†with Jesus¬†more honestly and¬†his transforming forgiveness, too!

So, regarding¬†faith¬†and¬†following God forward¬†today, we can¬†still look¬†to¬†Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah, Joseph, Moses,¬†David, Peter, Paul,¬†and Jesus’ early disciples!¬†¬†Stumbling¬†forward¬†every one¬†of them with¬†lots¬†of flaws, destructive habits, and character¬†issues¬†bubbling¬†to the surface.¬†¬†Yet, they continue to¬†point us¬†to¬†the¬†love and power of God¬†uniquely¬†available in Jesus’ incarnation,¬†crucifixion, and resurrection!

Regardless of our¬†pasts¬†and¬†histories, let’s¬†keep centering on Jesus,¬†following him forward¬†in faith and¬†getting his needed help¬†as we go!