Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself ["laid aside His privileges," mg.], taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5-7, NASB).
When we adopted Ebony, we discovered the very day we brought him home that he had significant fear issues. Our research efforts revealed that basic canine training classes help animal anxiety as much as they do other, more aggressive behaviors.
In the second or third week, we learned the "leave it" command. As we placed a yummy treat on the floor within Ebony's field of vision, we told him to "leave it." He was leashed for the training class, so the handler was easily able to check the inevitable lunges for the desired reward. Once Ebony had accepted that this particular food was off-limits, we could tell him to "take it." Needless to say, this was his favorite part of the exercise.
Over many weeks and repetitions, the duration of the hold increased and the proximity of the treat decreased. It's much harder for him to resist temptation when it's truly under his nose or he's waited so long he's drooling.
|"Okay. Take it!"|
As it happens, this exercise does not merely serve to establish who is the master and who the pet. We are training into him, in safe and controlled circumstances, the response we desire from the words, "Leave it." Once solidified, this command proves not only useful but essential when, for example, the coffee bag spills and beans skitter off the counter onto the floor and into his water bowl. "Leave it" then saves an emergency vet visit, at least, and the animal's life, at most. Again, when a glass jar shatters all over the kitchen linoleum and Ebony's instincts draw him toward the kerfuffle, "Leave it" keeps his tender paws at a safe distance.
What seems like an irresistible command to resist the allure of a tantalizing treat is actually the novitiate training for a harder, lifesaving obedience later on. The food incentive is not bad in itself but beneficial in appropriate measures. If it were a bad or unattractive thing we asked him to leave, it would be a poor training tool.
When I consider the Christian practice of fasting, as the Walk with Him Wednesday community has been encouraged to do, the "leave it" command comes to my mind. My practice of fasting has been sporadic and varied, and the last 20 months feel like a protracted fast from many things, but not from food. The off-limits "yummy treats" that call my name are not bad in themselves: visits with my grandmother, road trips with the global nomad who married me, studying cross-legged in my favorite chair, kneeling for prayer. For reasons of His own, however, God has told me to "leave it." I have heard "take it" more often in the last six months, but the boundaries still feel claustrophobic on a regular basis.
Trust calls me to offer those things back to God to keep or restore in His time. Gratitude calls me to look at all the good and perfect gifts He has given, the blessings of this present moment. Praise calls me to bless His name even if the boundaries narrow yet further and the stakes of obedience increase.
When the command chafes and I'm
Do you notice the direction of Ebony's gaze? He's looking at me, the one who issued the command and has the power to release him from it. All too often I stare at the bowl of food and drool, which only intensifies my frustration and does not hasten gratification.
For the most part, this blog has been a most blessed "take it!" Unhappily for me, for a little while I am sensing God asking me to leave it be and move a couple of non-blog matters to the fore. I think I can learn and do what is needful offline in the next two to three weeks, but the only way to accomplish that while still in physical therapy and completing the local Bible study commitment is to fast temporarily from posting.
My discomfiture about the prospect arises partly from past experience teaching me the difficulty of regaining momentum after a habit is broken for a time. I'm also realizing, however, that I'm reluctant to relinquish the sense of significance this community provides. That I am looking to your affirmation for approval and validation instead of writing from the overflow of a heart already secure and satisfied in Christ is a warning sign for me. My mental completions of the sentence, "I'd rather blog than _____," also show me this place may be an escape from unpleasant duties I'd just as soon push aside.
(Those of you who blog, have you experienced this? If so, where have you found help?)
Perhaps it is antithetical to blog about not blogging, but I know that you kind crumbles would worry if I suddenly went radio silent without explanation. This way you know how to keep me in your prayers as I keep you in mine and endeavor to keep my eyes on my Father-Master for His word.
Perhaps some of you are also sensing the Holy Spirit's nudge to lay something aside for a while. Perhaps your something is more serious and substantial than mine, or perhaps it's a blessing which has become unruly or doesn't fit within a new set of boundaries you face.
If so, we can watch our Father together and set the eyes of our hearts on Jesus, now exalted to His right hand after Himself pioneering the way for us by leaving the privileges of glory to be born into a poor carpenter's family so that He could lay down His life in love for us. Whether we know the reason for our "leave it" or not, we can lean into His intercession and trust that our Lord has a good purpose in this, that we might love Him and our neighbor better through what we lay aside.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26, ESV).If I do not already know your prayer requests from correspondence or your own blog, please feel free to communicate in the comments or by email at crumbsfromhistable[at]gmail[dot]com. With gratitude, I lift your names to the Father in open hands most days, and a privilege that is. Alternately, I'd be delighted to learn from listening to your experience of fasting and any Lenten observance you may have planned.
If the Lord wills, we will regather here March 12 or 13.
Grace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ.
With love in the Lamb,