Chico, our Chihuahua, is a quirky little guy. A creature of habit, he loves his routine. In the morning, he wakes the kids up, jumping onto their beds, licking their faces, and trying to “dig” them out through the fluffy comforters on their beds. When Hope finally gets up, he follows her to the laundry room for a treat.
After school, he waits on the comfy chair for us to get home, rolls over for scratches when we do, and runs to the back door to go out. At bedtime, he drinks the last bit of milk from my cereal bowl, goes outside one more time, turns a little circle just inside the door (we have no idea why), and scurries into his bed by the fireplace. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure whether we have trained him or he has trained us.
This winter, Chico taught Hope a new trick.
Our windows being on the north and south sides of our house, we rarely get direct sunlight, a fact that frustrates our Chihuahua, who gets the shivers. We do get direct rays through the back door by the dining room, but they land on cold tile. One day, Hope forgot to push her chair in after breakfast, leaving it in a ray of sun to bake. Desperate to get warm, Chico found the spot, circled a few times on the upholstered seat, and lay down, claiming it for himself.
As the sun moved, so did Chico, settling and resettling until his sunshine finally slid onto the floor. Frustrated and cold, he went to find his girl, batting her foot and turning circles until she got up and followed him to “his” chair. Seeing the problem, Hope laughed and moved her chair back into the sun. It has become a new routine. Every afternoon, Hope pulls her chair out and helps Chico follow the sun.
I think we could all use a little help staying in the light. For me, what I consider to be out and out darkness isn’t that hard to avoid. Murder, drunkenness, brawling, and the like are not really my scene. I wouldn’t go there even if I didn’t know Jesus. However, shadows give me fits, those pesky gray patches of sin with boundaries too vague to trace. They blow in on the winds of apathy and overtake me when I least expect it.
Cozy in the warmth of God’s blessing and favor, I get arrogant and lazy sometimes. The enemy talks me into believing that I’ve done well enough to take a spiritual break. Ignoring the Holy Spirit’s warnings, I lay down my armor and close my eyes.
Before I know it, a chill takes hold. I open dull eyes to find myself lukewarm, engulfed by attitudes I never saw coming, pride, jealousy, greed, anger, malice, etc. When I open my mouth, slander, gossip, and criticism pour out. It’s a nightmare I can wake from, but it takes a lot of prayer and effort.
I could avoid it all together if I would just let others help me now and then, but I’m a little quirky. I tend to confuse loving rebuke with insult and wise instruction with criticism. The problem is mine, and I realize that, so I do appreciate those brothers and sister in Christ who are willing to take one for the team where I am concerned, enduring my silence, feigned indifference, and thoughtless responses from time to time (I hope it doesn’t happen more often than that!). If I owe you an apology, let me know. Seriously.
I know that it is neither convenient, nor easy to speak the Truth to someone who doesn’t want to hear it, and I thank you for loving me enough to do it anyway. I hope you feel the same when the Holy Spirit prompts me to return the favor, knowing that I don’t think any less of you. I know better than anyone that it’s not easy to follow the Son.