In his later years, my father had a little dog who was a mouser. My dad trusted Pepper’s nose and would patiently dismantle wood-piles or move junk collectibles in the barn for hours to assist Pepper’s efforts to search, locate and destroy mice. When this process dragged on, I invariably concluded that Pepper was sniffing a mouse-trail where the mouse was long-gone. Yet through perseverance, my father and Pepper always proved me wrong.
In a strange way, I believe God sets up opportunities for us to be mousers in the midst of all the challenges life brings. Especially in crises, where we want God to be a genie in a bottle granting our wishes, He is actually our loving Father Who desires to see His children grow up. So, all our life issues can become teachable moments if we will take the time, and put in the effort, to sniff out what God wants us to learn.
Those of us who are agreeable to this fork in the path rationalize there is much we have to learn about life, and approach it as classroom students learning objective facts. Therefore, it is surprising and alarming when God’s lessons are very personal, focusing on our own actions and reactions, rather than others. What is at the root of our anger, disappointment, heartache, fear and despair? What are the dashed hopes and expectations? Why are we compelled to try to do what no human can actually do? How did those things originate in us, and what do they say about who we are? These are trails that crisscross, go under junk to hide, and double back upon themselves. But, our loving Savior is patient in moving obstacles out of the way when we enlist His help in the search.
The biblical David understood this to be God’s character when he was running from King Saul who was determined to kill him. “Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” “In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me.” (Ps 86:1, 7) Like us, David was doing everything he knew to do, but was running out of options. But unlike us, David called to God out of the certainty of God’s faithfulness to provide answers, not as a last-ditch effort most likely doomed to failure. Intimacy with God that produces trust is the distinction. David had it. Most of us don’t…because we have too much junk in the way that we’ve never taken the time to sniff out.
Are we willing to embrace the crisis to follow our spiritual noses and sniff out Truths about ourselves that only Jesus can show us?
Lord, give me he strength and courage to say as David did in Psalm 86:11, “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your Truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name.”