When we decided to pursue becoming foster parents, we had to get a bit more responsible. One such bit was to finally put up a smoke detector after living in our house for over four years. Sure, it's a good thing to have a smoke detector, but combine that with the fact that our oven doesn't have an exhaust fan and it becomes very annoying to cook a frozen pizza for dinner, as I did the other night. Wihout fail, when we've cooked a pizza over the past few months, the smoke alarm has sounded and I've had to press the "hush" button. But even in "hush" mode, a high-pitched beep goes off about every 30 seconds for seven minutes and then, if the smoke hasn't cleared, the full alarm restarts.
Our dogs hate the smoke alarm. Whenever it starts, they look for a place to hide and start shaking and give us the most pitiful looks that implore us to make the evil sound stop. Our older dog Ari is especially a 'fraidy-cat, and it seems that she's also too smart for her own good. After I put my Totino's Party Pizza in the oven, I sat down for some blogsurfing as I waited for my dinner to cook. Immediately, Ari curled up in my lap and started shaking. Now, we try not to have the heat on too high in the winter, but it wasn't that cold in our house. For several minutes, I couldn't figure out what her problem was. I kept petting her and reassuring her and even tried to get her to play with one of her favorite toys--all to no avail. You can see her above trying to hide behind (or on top of) my wife's head. As soon as I got up to check on the pizza progress, it hit me what was going on: Ari had experienced enough smoke alarms to know that they always follow my pulling a thin red box out of the freezer, unwrapping a round disk, and setting it on the oven rack. It was funny and pitiful at the same time when I realized the connection our poor pup had made.
Of course, it's no good trying to explain to Ari that the smoke alarm poses no real threat or danger to her. (Four years in our house and she still doesn't understand much English.) And all my reassuring gestures and comforting words made litte impact. Even though I've always care for and protected her, she couldn't get past her perception of her circumstances. She sensed a threat and she was consumed with reacting to it. I'm not much different. Despite all the provision, protection, and promises I have received from God throughout my life, they all go out my mental window when I'm faced with a distressing situation. Oh, maybe not every time, but too often anyway. I know intellectually that my Heavenly Father who gave His one and only Son for me will also deliver on every other promise He has made. But in the moment, it is often more likely that I will be consumed with the dread of physical/emotional/spiritual pain than with trust in the faithfulness of my Lord. Yet as similar as I am with my dog Ari, there's something I could learn from her. When she was frightened, she didn't try to put on a bold face and stick it out, she came to me for comfort and protection. Too often, I try to solve my own issues or I simply give in to dispair about my troubles. Instead I ought to flee to Him who has real comfort and protection to provide. I ought to admit my brokenness and seek restoration and wholeness from the only One who can give them. He's promised He's ready and willing to do so.
boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."