Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Afraid of What We Triumphantly Faced Before

"Hadley, leave it!"

Pounding feet and barking greet my ears.

"Hadley! LEAVE IT!"

Occasionally, she will leave it. It (in many cases) is my cat Mali. Don't get me wrong, for a cat and dog they actually do reasonably well together. But, sometimes Mali boxes Hadley's ears for no apparent reasons. Other times, even the slightest movement on Mali's part results in a game of chase and barking on Hadley's part.

As annoying as these moments are (especially since leaving a running cat is next to impossible for my pup), I have noticed something interesting. Hadley is obviously not afraid of Mali. As a general rule, she does not cower around her. She and Mali sometimes sit calmly nose to nose. And she chases her. Who chases what they are afraid of?

As well as "leave it," Hadley and I are also working on "Come." She's actually doing fairly well with this. She will scamper to me with her tail wagging and is typically rewarded with a treat.

However, there are times when this is not the case. For example, the other morning she had chased Mali upstairs. Since "leave it" was not working, I called for her to come.


I called again.

Mournful barking.

Curious, I went to the bottom of the stairs only to find Mali (whose is almost exactly half Hadley's size) barring the way. Hadley's head was down and she was admitting pitiful whines. She wanted to obey but Mali sat there triumphantly -- the queen of the castle -- blocking her way.

The scenario was comical, but it also begged a question. Why was Hadley giving chase one moment and cowering the next?

The scene tugged the story of Elijah (1 Kings 17-19) to mind. Elijah lived during a time when it was dangerous to be a prophet of God. God had the prophets in hiding. For a couple of years, God took care of Elijah in miraculous ways -- being fed by ravens and later an unending and miraculous supply of flour in a widow's house. In the third year, God decides it is time to confront the evil king Ahab and queen Jezebel.

Through Elijah, God confronts Jezebel's prophets of Baal. They both build altars and declare that the god who answers with fire is the true god. Baal's prophets go first and call on Baal -- slicing themselves and dancing to get his attention -- morning to past midday. No answer.

Elijah's turn. The altar is built and he pours water on the sacrifice and altar three times. There is trench around the altar and the water fills the trench. Then Elijah prays to God and fire comes down, burns up the offering, and laps up the water in the trench. God answered. Elijah had all the prophets of Baal put to death.

It was a great victory for Elijah and an even bigger victory for God. But Jezebel is not cowed. She is angry. She vows that she will kill Elijah -- whom God has protected and done mighty works through. Perhaps we can understand her anger.

But the perplexing bit is Elijah. He turns and runs. And when he interacts with God, he whines about his plight.

What changed? Did God abandon Elijah when Jezebel threatened? No. God never changes. Rather than look at the God who had just displayed His might and authority, the God who had cared for him in miraculous ways, Elijah turned his back and looked instead at his circumstances.

With his back to God, he stared intently on the threat on his life.

Don't get me wrong. I understand it. Been there. Done that. But it is a reminder to me. When I feel afraid or panicked or hopeless, where are my eyes? Are they on my God or on myself and my circumstances?

Sometimes a cat can look like a lion. At those moments, we need God's vision to put everything back in perspective.

How can you adjust your vision today?



Anonymous said...

What a perfect analogy! Thank you!

Warren Baldwin said...

I linked here from your devotional at Internet Cafe. That was a good one.

So is this one on Elijah. I think of Elijah's experience against the Baal's as a "Mountain Top Experience." We all love them. For many today it is an inspiring weekend at a spiritual retreat of some kind, Bible Camp or a youth revival.

But, there is always the trip down the mountain afterwards - going home, facing bills, an ill parent, and the spiritual high can vanish even more quickly than it developed.

Elijah's high came from faithfully opposing opposition, but the let down was the same afterwards. I think he was emotionally drained. He had to rest and hear the voice of God to get back on track.

These two verses sustain me: 2 Tim. 1:5 and 1 John 4:4, especially if I am being intimidated.

Good post.

Kim said...

I like your writing, Amy. Thank you for sharing your life and experiences with others through this blog! --Kim