Have you ever been a pet-parent? Have you had a puppy? A kitten? Perhaps a bunny or bird? Were you close to the pet who needed and relied upon you?
When the sound of the blaring smoke detector frightens my little pup, he scurries under the couch or behind the end-table. Cowering from the scary sound, he crouches low in his small dark concealed place, alone. My heart tears as I yearn to reach him, comfort him, reassure him. But he hides from me and my immense desire to care for him. He backs further into his secret cave filled with panic, uncertain I have any power to make the chaos better.
Imagine you find a lost or abandoned puppy (kitten, if you prefer) limping along the sidewalk. You notice she’s holding up a paw. She pauses to lick it and winces. You wonder if she’s hurt. You attempt to approach. But instead of welcoming your interest and advance toward her, she runs off to hide in a crevasse under a rundown building. She’s cold, perhaps wet, whimpering, obviously very much afraid. What do you do? Likely you try to coax her forward. You gently hold out your hand for her, allowing her to sniff, hoping she’ll trust you. You speak softly. Peeling the wrapper off a half-eaten granola bar or quietly opening a bag of chips, you offer the helpless trembling ball of fur some food. Perhaps you unscrew the cap from your water bottle, pour some into a paper cup and place it at the hole’s entrance. You start to worry for her safety; she needs to be rescued both physically and from her own fears and miss-perceptions. A sense of desperation consumes you. Gazing upon her quivering expression, your heart aches. You can’t just leave her...
How might this little one respond? Might she venture out? What if she’s too afraid to surrender herself into your care? She’s been through a lot already. All she knows now is that she can count on herself. What if as you reach forward, she resists, retreating further into her hiding place? Maybe she defends her position by lashing out with a paw swipe, a snarl, a bark, or bite. You wonder, “Why won’t you let me help you? You can trust me. Please let me save you!” You exhale deeply, with an audible sigh. “How can I help you understand that I only want to comfort and care for you?” Many minutes pass with each attempt to help. You say to yourself, “If only I could speak puppy (or kitten). If only I looked, acted, felt, and communicated like you, maybe then you’d understand. Maybe then together, we could save you from this situation.”
My friends, this is not unlike the heartfelt feelings our Father in heaven has toward each of us. He wonders why when we struggle, when we are frightened, alone, wet, or hungry, why we run from Him. Have you? I have. I have felt despair. I vividly recall a time when I felt dreadfully abandoned. After weeks of seemingly unanswered prayers, I decided, “Well, that’s proof. You really don’t care.” Feeling lost and forgotten, I figured I was on my own. I doubted. I retreated. I prayed less. Instead I used every minute to strive that much harder to survive the crisis. For some reason we think we must make it on our own. There’s so much (both people and situations) working against us; so many pressures that need to be addressed and managed. [Think about a few of your own. Which one comes to mind first?]
Well, I’d like to say, I was never more wrong! It took some time, but slowly I came to recognize how many gifts He’d sent me to help get me through that horrible time. After months of learning, growing, and discovering, I know without a shadow of a doubt that God was there and that the Holy Spirit carried me the whole time. [What about the situation that popped into your mind. Have you asked, listened, and noticed His help with an open mind and heart?]
God sees our worries, our fear, lack of understanding, our hurts, hunger, and needs. He knows our despair when the cruel parts of this world cause us to retreat into a dark place, hiding and lashing out as we attempt to protect ourselves. Like a frightened puppy, we often move further and further away from faith, believing we must rely only on our own resources. Our Father tried to extend His hand. He reached out over centuries through prophets and signs. After exhausting every other idea to no avail, He finally said, “If only I could be just like you, to completely relate in every way, to fully communicate and show you the way to freedom, safety, and salvation!”
So as we begin Advent, we rejoice. We celebrate this season knowing our Father loves us - incredibly, without condition or end. “For God so loved the world, He sent His only son.” -John 3:16
I find joy in Jesus’ arrival. I prepare by decorating and lighting candles, singing, praying, and uncovering hope I find in new beginnings. I’ll cherish this time and this gift! How about you? When Jesus comes at Christmas, will you retreat or will you accept His outstretched hand? Will you hold back, timid and trembling or rush out of your personal shelter into His warm, loving embrace?
It was essential that He should in this way become completely like His brothers, so that He could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God… because He has Himself been through tests and trials, He is able to help others who are tested and tried.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of Him, and He will make straight your paths.
They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.
They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God….
Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God… He comes to save you.
I present this article based on an old story passed down for hundreds of years. The metaphor hits home for me, so I’m sharing my interpretation...
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.