On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:60-69
I have a dog. Her name is Oscar. Yes, Oscar is a girl with a boy’s name. We had named her with the understanding that she was a he and by the time we discovered the truth the name had already stuck. She doesn’t seem to mind and none of the other dogs tease her to her face, so I guess it’s okay.
Oscar is our family dog, but in truth, she really belongs to my son. I’m the disciplinarian, so she sometimes doesn’t like me very much. My daughter is the doting, hands-on, in your face kind of dog lover that Oscar tolerates to a certain point. My son is right down the middle. He adores this dog. He picks her up gently. He pets her, takes her outside and plays fetch, makes sure she’s fed and cared for, and shows her love every day he’s here. And of course, Oscar responds in kind. Much to my delight and much to daughter’s dismay, Oscar always chooses to be with my son.
This is not always the way things used to be. In fact, the sole reason I even considered getting a dog is because of my son’s great (and well deserved fear of dogs). It started when he was a about four. He was quite the dog lover, especially his grandparents’ 8 year old golden retriever. She was very calm and accommodating to a four year olds play habits, so it worked out well. However, a neighbor’s 1 year old golden proved far more energetic. She lifted her front paws up , placing them on he shoulders, scaring him and planting a seed of fear in him about dogs. That seed sprung into a sequoia a few years ago when a dog simply walked up to him, unprovoked, and bit him. That incident left him totally fearful of all dogs. So when I heard that a friend had miniature dachshund puppies and they were looking for a good home for them, I decided to give it a chance. I talked about it with him, showed him pictures and asked if he’d be okay with it. The dog was cute, tiny, and looked harmless, so he cautiously agreed. The rest as they say, is history.
I have enjoyed the transformation that has taken place in my son while watching him play with his dog. This would have never happened two years ago, but even as I write this today, he is sitting in the next room playing with his dog. God brought Oscar into his life to bring about a transformation – to change his paradigm regarding his feelings about dogs and boost his confidence. God is good in doing these things for us. As part of his great plan for the kingdom, He allows people, places, and events to influence us, to enter into our hearts and minds so that we might learn and grow from them. Some of these things are cute, warm, and fuzzy. Others can be challenges and trials that force us to come face to face with the demons of our past or the bad habits that God is weeding out of our lives. Think of the apostles – the twelve men who stayed and continued to follow Christ, ultimately giving their lives to Him and to the ministry of sharing the good news. Like the others, they heard the word, had taken a little taste of its goodness, maybe even felt a rush of excitement over the possibilities the future would bring. But they would have also faced the negatives – the difficulty of what Christ was teaching, the changes that these things would bring to their daily lives, their families, and their futures. Instead of the life plan they had chosen, they would now pursue a future that would be unknown, adventurous, but filled with struggles and uncertainties. Would they be capable? Would they regret it? Were they making the right decision? Many questions raised, but in a moment and through the power of the Spirit at work in their lives they made the transition. Fear became confidence. Old expectations were traded for new blessings. Adequacy transformed into abundance.
What has God given you? What is He revealing in your heart that you need to learn to advance? What is He offering you that will fill the rest of your life with blessings beyond those you could imagine today? Seek His face, and in the quiet that comes find His answer. And when it has been revealed to you, I pray that He will give you the strength to receive it so that your life may be fully transformed.