Thunderstorms and the love of God

March 30, 2011

We have two dogs that are a vital part of our family. “Tink” is a half Yellow Lab, half Chow sweetheart that is about as gentle a dog as there ever was. We claimed he from the Jackson County (MS) Animal Shelter in 1998, about four months after our long-time, much beloved Golden Retriever “Boston” went to be with his Maker. When she was about 2 years old, and in heat, Tink dug out of our yard and “made friends” with a Black Lab that was about the size of an Abrams tank; ten weeks later she presented us with ten squirmy little Black Lab pups. a couple did not make it, we sold one, gave the rest away, and the last was the final Christmas present to our family in 2000.
“Gumbo” (he’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that) looks like a pure bred Black Lab (until you see the black spots on his tongue). He’s a really good looking dog, but is not necessarily the sharpest knife in the drawer (we comment that Gumbo rhymes with dumbo). He has good retrieving skills (good, not great), presents strangers with the impression of being ferocious when he is really a sissy, but we all love him, and I like having another man around the house, someone I can talk to.
Both dogs, as many dogs, are frightened by thunderstorms. For whatever reason, it seems to be magnified in Gumbo. We think that Tink inherited the fear when she was about three months old, and we had to weather a hurricane; maybe it’s genetic through her into Gumbo, we just don’t know.
Last night I was watching the weather, and realized that a solid line of thunderstorms was going to roll through Atlanta in the early morning hours. Our dogs are “outside dogs,” and while they sleep in the enclosed garage, I thought it may be a good idea to bring them into the laundry room for the night, which is where they sleep in awfully cold weather, or through storms.
I rolled out of bed at 4:40 this morning (as usual), fired up the coffee pot, and went into the laundry room to help them feel safe and secure as the storm was just rolling in. Tink settled on the bed and let me rub her belly, whole Gumbo nosed at the door. Before I could stop him, he had it open, and went through it. He usually goes upstairs and tries to get into Kathryn’s room; but for whatever reason, today he headed to the basement. I grabbed a cup of coffee, and headed down there to my office for my quiet time, as I do most every morning. I encouraged him to come into the office with me, and he settled in right by me, shaking like Japan in the recent earthquake.
I did my best to calm him down, to assure him, to help him feel safe. I scratched his ears, rubbed his back, scratched that spot that he likes best (right where his tail connects to his butt), and all he did was shake. I kept telling him it would be OK, that he was a good dog, to settle down, but he just shook. Finally he got up, walked underneath my desk, and curled up into a ball.
I sat there, read a few Psalms, and then looked over at Gumbo. I thought about how much I love that old dog, and how much I wished I could take away his anxiety and fear, and help him to feel safe and secure.
And then it hit me; God wants the same, for me. Rugged, stubborn, individualistic person that I am, I still–even after following Jesus for more than 35 years–try and do it on my own. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, and start obsessing about something that I cannot do a blessed thing about in the middle of the night. I’ll get into some situation, toss a quick prayer to God, and then try and wrangle my own way through things.
And all along, God has his hand on my shoulder, whispering into my ear, assuring me of His presence, His concern for me, His strength and wisdom, doing all He can to calm me down. If only I would let Him, my life would be far better.
Psalm 121 says “he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.” (verse 4)
I need to remember that; FAR more than I look out for, try to take care of, and show love and affection to my dogs, the Creator of all this is tries to show me how He is looking out for, and taking care of–not to mention show His love and affection for–me.
And He does the same for you, as well. May you sense, feel, and accept His attention today!

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