Thursday, September 26, 2013

Old Mama Red

Roscoe P. Coltrain our Basset Hound
     Among my grandfather Hess' many hobbies, he raised and cared for dogs for a period of time.  He bred them and sold them.  One of his favorites was "Old Mama Red" as he called her.  She was a Golden Retriever who, in old age, had become blind but was able to find her way around the property. One day, however, she ventured too close to the edge of an in-ground gold fish pond that my grandfather had at the side of his home.  There she met her demise.  When my grandfather found her, he was devastated and immediately drained that pond lest curious grandchildren might likewise meet the same fate.
     Tuesday, our old dog, Roscoe almost followed in the same tracks as "Old Mama Red".  At almost thirteen years old, he is a blind basset hound but his nose usually keeps him out of trouble.  He is used to navigating our back yard and knows exactly where the pool is because he can smell the chlorine.  However, with the rain, he became disoriented, and when I let him out, he must have wandered too close to the pool and fell in.  Normally, he goes out and finds his way back to our door without difficulty.  I believe that God prompted me to check on him and when I looked out the window, I saw him flailing in the pool.  I ran out quickly.  When I got there, he had become unconscious.  I did not know if I was too late, but I pulled his 65 lb. body out of the water and began to press on his rib cage hoping to stimulate breathing and push out water.  He was unresponsive and I ran for my husband.
     When we returned to him a moment later, he was breathing again.  It was labored but he was breathing.  I prayed for his life to be spared as we rolled him onto an old sheet and carried him into our house.  His breathing eventually improved and he began to move around.  We kept close watch as we got ready for work.  As soon as the vet's office opened, we took him in for a check up.  The doctor said that he could not hear any fluid in the lungs, but gave me some antibiotics just in case.  He felt he would be fine.
     Today, Roscoe is laying at my feet as I type.  He is not eating much at this point but he has resumed taking water and seems pretty much back to normal.  I can tell he was traumatized because he won't let me get far away, and frankly, I am fine with that because it was a very close call.  It took me a while on Tuesday to work off the adrenaline I experienced during the rescue effort.  As a result, my floors are very clean and the house is vacuumed.  This is how I deal with excess stress....I clean.  But in all the excitement, I have learned some valuable lessons.
     First and foremost, we need to be vigilant in this life.  I knew that Roscoe was blind so I tried to keep watch over him and the vigilance paid off by God's grace.  However, as believers in Jesus Christ, we often forget that we have a formidable foe in Satan and his demons, and let our guard down.  The Apostle Peter gave us a clear instruction (I Peter 5:8):  "Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  None of us is above temptation for even our Lord Jesus Christ faced this in the wilderness.  Yet if we will do what Peter suggests in verse 9, we will overcome the enemy:  "Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world."  Jesus resisted the devil by speaking truth from the Word.  We can do the same, but we must be vigilant.
     Another important lesson that was clear to me was that prayer always makes a difference.  Instead of pure panic, I prayed.  My dog was unresponsive, but I prayed anyway.  We are called to pray no matter what circumstances look like.  We have to turn our concerns, worries, fears over to God or they will overtake us.  Peter admonishes us in verses 6 and 7 (I Peter 5) to:  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you."  Prayer is the key to the Christian life.  It is the relinquishing of self and the acknowledgment that only God has the answers to life.  Jesus, through the sacrifice of His life, tore the veil that separated us from a holy God.  Therefore, we have the privilege of entering the very presence of our Creator and talking to Him.  Why would we not avail ourselves of such a blessing?  It has to become a lifestyle though.  Daily, we need His wisdom, His guidance, and His strength.  While prayer may not always alter circumstances, it does alter the way we look at things.  Prayer changes us and builds in our hearts a trust for God the Father who is sovereign over all of life.
     Finally, I have learned that whether it is the near drowning of a family pet or another crisis with family, health or job, we can find our rest and confidence in God.  Peter concludes chapter 5 with this comfort in verse 10:  "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."  What a joy to know that God, Himself, will be the one to bring us comfort and enable us to stand!  My knees are weak and my hands are feeble when difficulties arise, but my God is omnipotent.  He is able to see me through when I call upon Him through my Savior Jesus Christ.
     As I tended to Roscoe on Tuesday helping to carry him into the house, I felt like a shepherd caring for a sheep who was lost.  Then I thought of Jesus who is the shepherd of my life.  He came looking for me when I was lost and near drowning.  By the grace of God who awakened my soul from death sleep, I heard my shepherd calling and cried out in repentance.  He saved me not because of any righteousness I had, but because of His great mercy and grace. He has bound up my wounds, given me a new heart, and changed the direction of my life for His glory.  If you have never experienced this, I urge you today to call upon the Lord in sincere repentance and receive the gift of eternal life which is only found in Jesus Christ the risen Lord.  For those of you who already know Christ, I encourage you to learn from the lessons I gained from Tuesday's experience.  We are to be vigilant, prayerful and expectant that God will be with us no matter what happens from day to day.
     I am thankful that God allowed Roscoe to go on living and not suffer the same fate as "Old Mama Red", but I am even more thankful at the lessons He continues to teach me as I face the challenges that come with living in this fallen world.  My children tease me that whenever something happens, I write about it in the next devotion, but that is how I see life as a day to day walk with the Lord.  Each day, He has new lessons for us to learn.  May we be open to learning from each circumstance in life how God is at work conforming us to the image of His dear Son, and then, share
it with others.  Selah!

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