I kind of felt like we were simple country folks yesterday as we loaded up the car and headed out to go to the city! Our Australian Shepherd had an appointment for a checkup at the Vet right behind the apartment community where we used to live in the Morrisville/Cary area about 45 minutes northeast from our home. While the Vet was checking the pooch out, I mentioned to her that Mandie has been doing well since our last visit except that she has been slipping, sliding and sometimes spilling on the hardwood floors throughout our new home.
Without missing a beat the Doctor proceeded to hand me a brochure describing a new product called ToeGrips that are designed for older dogs (and those with other difficulties) whose legs aren’t as strong as they used to be. The tiny rubber-like grips fit right on the dog’s nails and are not normally felt by the dog. Then they act, as the product is named, as small gripping points of contact to the floor giving the dog a more sure balance with each step they take.
Well, that seemed like the perfect solution to Mandie’s needs and we had the Vet fit her with a set! I had noticed the other day that the dog was slipping and sometimes completely losing her footing when she jumped down from the one chair we let her lay on in the living room, so I taped a rug to the floor in front of the chair to give her the firm contact she needed. But she was still having some difficulties around the rest of the house, therefore the ToeGrips look to be the right fit for her… and so far they seem to be working! She did lick at them a little at first, but now seems comfortable with her cool new foot attire.
It would really kind of hurt me when I would observe our beloved canine family member slip and fall. She would get this look of utter embarrassment on her face and I would run to assist and gently help her up while encouraging her that all was fine. It’s almost the same feelings as when I see Piper slip as she has battled the Alzheimer’s. I think these occasions are reminders to me of the times I have slipped and fallen in my daily walk as a Christian and/or with others around me. Have you ever been there before… slightly angry at yourself and embarrassed at the same time?
I know that I have mentioned (probably a zillion times) of some of the outrageous and mostly miss-informed persecution aimed at me during the first few years of the attack on my wife’s health. At times it felt like I was an open sore with someone pouring salt into it! But I think even worse, was the way I felt about myself when I finally came to my senses and realized how badly I… a man in the pastoral ministry for over thirty years, as some would call a professional Christian… was handling the situation!
Then I also look back at the times I said or more often thought things I never should have even considered, or the times I said I would do something and I didn’t because I thought what I was doing was more important than keeping my word to someone else. And then there’s the times… well, my list could go on and on!
This morning as I read Ephesians 4:2 from the 1965 Bible in Basic English, I found myself laughing in dis-belief as I read: “With all gentle and quiet behavior, taking whatever comes, putting up with one another in love; taking care to keep the harmony of the Spirit in the yoke of peace.” One of my commentaries had a footnote on the word “love” which sent me over to I Corinthians 13:4-5 and I almost fell out of my chair while laughing even harder as I absorbed what the Bible says about love being patient and kind, not jealous, not singing its own praises, not arrogant, nor rude or thinking too highly of oneself, or being irritable or keeping track of wrongs. Those definitions are everything that I WASN”T when I came under attack or did something stupid!
Then it suddenly came to me that I needed something like Mandie’s ToeGrips to keep me from slipping when I am pressured to act in a way that is unbecoming of a follower of Jesus Christ. But while I am not planning on having the Vet put some ToeGrips on my toes (I’ve never really liked going barefoot anyway!), I am planning on staying focused on God’s love to help me stand firm and upright when I might get a little weak kneed due to the negative comments of others or when I am tempted to not do the right thing in order to get out of a sticky or uncomfortable situation.
When you study it out you’ll see that this is the solution that Paul gave us in Ephesians 4:2. I like that translation of the verse in the way it bluntly tells us to put up with others… in love. In case you didn’t figure it out, the word love here is describing the Agape, God kind of love… not love that comes from our feelings or our thoughts or that comes from our human response to a situation. Paul told us a few verses previous to this statement in Ephesians 3:19 that Christ’s love “goes far beyond any (natural) knowledge.” (God’s Word ©) The Message Bible calls it “the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.”
It is the kind of love that is not influenced by natural emotions or dependent on outside stimuli! It is just the kind of product we Christians need to keep us from slipping, sliding and occasionally spilling on the hard, slick things that we face on a daily basis in our individual worlds. So where am I going with this? Well that’s easy… Be like Mandie and Don’t Slip, but Keep Your Grip… on God’s love and thereby doing what is right in His eyes!
Have a great day today and keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to keep my GRIP today?”