Saturday, April 21, 2012

A dog, a mouse, and an apostle

I love my dog. Bailey is the coolest animal ever. She is also the dumbest.I have full reason to believe that she is the animal equivalent of being intellectually disabled. (Look at me go, two posts in a row that have elementary education terminology. Boom.) Bailey runs into walls and then backs up, looking at it like it just appeared right in her way. She barks at things that don't exist for hours. She also enjoys grocery shopping in the neighbors' garbage and bringing home treats, such as this bread, and burying it so well right in our front flower garden. 
As I've been writing this today, she also stole something like three pieces of pizza from the stove without making a sound. 
And, most recently, she hunts for imaginary mice.
About a week ago, my mom was feeding Bay in the garage downstairs. Cool Breeze and I were in the living room watching TV - probably the Big Bang Theory, knowing us - when we heard this huge shriek coming from the garage. I got up and looked in to see my mom dancing around Bailey, who had a mouse trapped on her bed. Somehow, she had found a mouse behind her food container and snapped it up lightning fast. Since then, she's been bound and determined that there are more mice to be found in the garage. While this is probably true, we have yet to see one.
Her favorite lookout spot right now is in one corner of the garage, staring straight into the wall. She's been sitting there, laying there, and sleeping there for a few days in a row. My dad enjoys messing with her and going on the other side of the wall and scratching around where she is. It's driving her nuts, and it's pretty funny. Today I sprayed some dog repellent stuff in an attempt to get her away. She's been sitting at the same spot for 3 days, and she's started to gnaw on a piece of wood in the wall in an attempt to get at what's behind it - which, obviously, is just drywall and nothing else. This was about an hour or two ago. I just went downstairs and what do I see? Her sitting right at the wall, nose buried in the heart of the smell, still bound and determined to stick it out and find that mouse. I hope for her sake there is one so she can gain some intelligence back. Otherwise, she's quickly dropping down in points. The fumes from the dog repellent can't be helping her either.
Even though she's not the brightest crayon in the box, she still is pretty determined to get her work done. Her methods may not be the most orthodox, and they may not win points for intellect, but she's determined. 
Her spirit reminds me of a person from the New Testament who shared the same dogged (pun possibly intended) determination to finish what needed done. 
My favorite book in the Bible, written by this man, is Philippians. Even though it's only 4 chapters, it's full of some of the best information and knowledge that the entire Bible contains, in my opinion. Paul, before Jesus, was Saul - persecuting Christians to his hearts content and living out the old law. Then, one day, his world was rocked once he had a true God encounter which converted him. He went from determinedly pursuing to persecute Christians to determinedly pursuing to win people to Christ. Talk about a life change.
In Philippians chapter 3, Paul has this to say:
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know Him and  the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. " - Philippians 3:7-14.
Yes, that was probably the biggest chunk of verses I've ever placed in a post on here before. It's worth it though. 1, you had to work for the point of it and didn't even realize. (Ha!) 2, I'm a firm believer in reading what comes before and after a main point. All of the extras aren't there to sound all smarty pants or anything, because I am far from it. Rather, it's to show it's important. It's to show how Paul gets up to his main point. He starts here by saying that everything he once counted as important - which was a lot, because in Acts and Romans it says how he was the cream of the crop for Jewish society: born in the right family, perfect job, knew the right people, all that nonsense. He was basically on-par for Kennedy status in their day and age, if I may be so bold to include another history reference - now is something he counts as holding him back. All of those things are nice, and helped him in his life before God, but now they're just holding him back because they are desirable when he should be focusing on God.
Paul goes on to say how he is focusing on becoming more like God. He states how he has yet to attain this, but he keeps trying. Even when other people are looking at him like he's crazy - and honestly, being someone that important in society and then throwing it all away to follow someone that the Jewish people thought was also insane - Paul is still trying his hardest to get the job done. In this case, however, his invisible mouse is winning people to Christ. A much more satisfying, and more real, goal. 
Paul concludes this passage by saying in order to attain this goal, he's forgetting his past and pushing himself towards the future - an eternal life in Christ Jesus. He's throwing away all of the fancy titles, the prestige and power, and trying to strain towards a life with God. Talk about a determined guy. If I had something like that, I would be hard pressed to throw it away as easily as Paul did. 
When I was researching for this post, I saw a side note in my Bible that gave me some history behind Philippians. Paul actually wrote this while he was in prison about 60 years after Jesus died on the cross. Now, let's take a minute and think here. Paul is sitting in prison, writing this letter to the people in Philippi about straining to tell others about God and to live their lives for him. Another important part to note about this is in chapter four, Paul says he has "learned in every situation to be content." (v.11) Just hold on a minute. So, not only do we see a man who once had everything but has given it all away, but we see this same man writing a letter to people to encourage them to continue their faith and writing how he is content in every situation...AS HE SITS IN PRISON.
This guy was incredible.
His determination for others to learn and know Christ was something of legend, and something that should be completely recognized.  He says in verse 13 how he can do EVERYTHING - no ifs, ands, or buts - through Christ who gives Him strength. Even throw off his power and fame, his past, his entire way of life to live a humble life in and out of prison just to share the gospel. 
If Paul can do this, what's our excuse?
While my dog may not be the smartest, she's still bound and determined to find that mouse. If she ever does end up with a mouse, I'll be sure to let you all know. In the meantime, her determination to hunt it down will still inspire - and, yes, entertain - me. If Paul can find everything good in prison and still encourage others, I'm pretty sure Bailey can find a mouse somewhere in the backwoods where we live. 
Here's your NR challenge: figure out where your determination is. Is it set on the right kind of things, or are you just barking at a wall and chasing an imaginary mouse? 
Are you in?


Sorry that was a little uncalled for

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