I guess even if your life looks like Christmas right now, there is a scorpion or two lurking somewhere. And days when clicking your heels three times and asking to be taken back to Kansas simply doesn’t do much.
Christmas 2009 in Costa Rica. Scorpions were always a part of daily life, but one would hope you could cheat this at Christmas…not so this year
Sometimes a scorpion is much easier to deal with than a pack of chihuahuas yapping at your heels. Scorpions can be crushed and hit over and over and they will be quiet… the kids love to remind me of a time I was hitting a very large scorpion on the wall at least 119 times, each time as I hit it with a shoe yelling “EEEUW! GROSS GROSS GROSS!” While they yelled, “Mommy! It’s DEAD already by now!” Chihuahuas, on the other hand, which were also part of life in Costa Rica, are a different story. Somehow these little rat like dogs were coveted members of the family for all of our neighbors…and coming from Montana culture of a dog isn’t a dog unless it’s over 80 pounds and furry, this was a hard one to buy.
And…there are simply some days when you find your greatest enemy is not found in your circumstances, nor in those around you, but it is in those thoughts and feelings that are like a pack of little chihuahua dogs, yipping at your heels, and as you leash one and force it to heel, its brothers and sisters surround your other leg, driving you crazy with their clamour and their amazing ability to stay just out of reach so you can’t leash it, or better yet, strangle that little quivering hairless neck with your bare hands.
you try using the Sword of the Spirit to slay it, but it grabs it in its teeth and carries it away and buries it, bone-like. Singing doesn’t do a thing but add to the din already in your head. And the sheer pathetic-ness of it all – good grief it is only a pack of feelings and thoughts that have you suddenly despairing of life itself at this point, as they limit your perspective to the here and now and rob you of the strength to be found in the There and Then.
Of course He doesn’t – really, He doesn’t – leave you completely defenseless, although in all honesty it FEELS like He has…you are so aware of being held hostage by these stupid feelings and thoughts, and are ashamed at how weak they seem to make you as you fruitlessly battle them to no avail. For me, His defense came through Daily Light, reading it this early morning before the chihuahuas were awake:
Psalm 13:2 How long, O Lord, must I wrestle with my thoughts?
Have you ever seen that verse? I certainly haven’t. Listen in the Amplified: How long must I lay up my cares within me, and have sorrow in my heart day after day?
Can’t you just see those chihuahuas nipping at David’s heels?
To be truthful, although I am thankful this was His word to me today, it didn’t seem to be a very choice word, as it didn’t seem to free me from one single chihuahua, but one must take what is given, for it is true that “the helpless leave themselves to Him.” and that is certainly me when I am in these places, those times where one realizes his true inability to extract himself from…himself.
I stop my morning chores and sit and chew on his words, and I am finding His voice becoming a very tiny bit louder and I can ignore the yappers a bit more, and I notice several things:
1) There were times in David’s life when his most troubling enemies were not external, but were internal. This is comforting. If the man after God’s’ own heart deals with this, than I am o.k. as well.
2) In this Psalm David is really self-focused. In 6 verses David uses “I”, “me”, “my” 18 times. 18!!. that averages to three times a verse! And uses “Lord” or “You” only 8. So as much as we can say, and it usually is very good counsel, “get your eyes off yourself”, there are times when one will feel consumed and trapped by himself. I think AS LONG as one uses it as the road to DIALOG with Him, where relief is to be found, one is on a path that is not self-destructive or self-pitying. That truth can quiet the one yapper that is yapping “self-focus! What about all the starving in Haiti! Get your eyes off yourself!”
3) David now finds the attribute that will help him most in this situation: His mercy. v.5 “But I have trusted, leaned on, and been confident in Your Mercy and Loving-kindness.”
Why do we need to think on His Mercy and Lovingkindness in those chihuahua times?
– Because our thoughts are often self-condemning, and with all the barking we can’t tell what’s true and what isn’t, BUT His mercy tells us Romans 8:1 “There is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus” I am IN Him. He says there is NO condemnation.
-Because some of the favorite yapping that assaults me is that I am in this stew due to my own inability to think truth better, to DO something, etc., and that there is really hidden sin in somewhere that is causing my stuckness…BUT His mercy tells me that 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us ALL sin and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” so I can do the confession that says “Lord, in all this noise internally I can’t tell which is and isn’t sin in this, so will You just please take it all and cleanse me right now from everything?” and HE WILL. HE DOES. IMMEDIATELY. And His Lovingkindness tells us that His Love is Stronger than our Weakness. This is TRUTH.
-Because our thoughts/feelings are for those who have gotten themselves into such a heinous lifestyle/relationship/pickle that there are truly lifelong serious consequences they will suffer, BUT His mercy tells us that He is the Good Shepherd who seeks out the lost and the 1, leaving the 99, and when He finds Him He doesn’t berate but CARRIES Him on His shoulders, where He will bind up their wounds and then not only walk through their consequences with them, but Joy, turn them into GOOD.
-Because our thoughts/feelings are for those who seem so vulnerable and what will happen when we aren’t there for them, BUT His lovingkindness reminds us that He is O so tender with the weak and O so merciful to the sparrow…
-Because our thoughts or feelings that are nipping at us are about tomorrow, and how can we take them to Him when we know we are not to think about tomorrow, BUT His Mercy says “COME to ME all who are heavy laden and burdened” and because of His loving kindness He doesn’t say “This ONLY applies if you’ve handled things right up to this point”.
The rat-dogs are a bit quieter now, after this. And I am only through verse 5…Final truths:
TRUTH: There were times in David’s life where his enemies were this thoughts and feelings. So something is not necessarily “wrong” with you if this happens to be one of your enemies as well.
TRUTH: David is unabashedly self-focused, but WALKS that path to relationship, for He is crying out to God. He is in conversation with Him. The relationship GROWS even in self-focus because it is conversation not with himself, (independence) but with God (In Dependence).
TRUTH: When one is being assaulted by ones thoughts, a good thing to be confident on, to rely on and trust in, is His Mercy and Lovingkindness. One can’t go wrong with Romans 8:1 and 1 John 1:9
TRUTH: This theme of “How Long” is repeated in the Psalms. Lament is a reality, and asking “how long” is a very familiar part of this favored one of God’s vocabulary. If David asks “how long” so frequently, it must be that the problem doesn’t go away…
I am sorry to say this, but there won’t be chihuahuas in heaven. At least not these kind.