“And you ain’t no friend of mine.” This is how I feel when our friendly neighborhood pooches break off the flower stems just when they are about to bloom.
Now, if Wallace or Max or Bailey would get rid of the rabbits that eat my flowers and vegetables, their friendship with me would remain intact even for the brief moments when they aggravate me with their destructive romping in the garden.
I am about to put my willow branches in a cage, along with their water bucket, after finding them pulled out of the water and their new roots drying in the harsh spring winds. No doubt the culprits are just some animals brushing up against the branches and interrupting their work of making roots.
They’re nice, friendly dogs, for sure; but they do make a lot of unnecessary work for their non-owners. Even our own hound dog “Snickers” would dig holes in the yard even though he was confined to a line that stopped short of the garden. Yet he failed to catch more than a couple of moles in his fourteen-year life.
Those neighborhood dogs haven’t left much evidence of dead rabbits or moles in all the years they have tromped through my labor of love. They have one purpose – to have fun chasing rabbits or birds or mayflies, or whatever it is they’re after.
To a gardener’s eyes, it’s as if their purpose is to destroy my hard work.
In a spiritual realm, there is one entity who DOES have that purpose – Satan himself. He and his servants are busy hindering instead of helping.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, NASB).
Make no mistake; there is evil in this world, and it is chasing after all of us. It may seem like the old Devil is chasing some of us more actively than others, but that’s mostly an illusion. We have limited knowledge about each other’s troubles, trials, and temptations.
Many fight a silent war against loneliness or depression, while all we see is that they seem to be “living the quiet life” while we have catastrophes hit us like a pack of wild dogs. If I cleaned up my broken daylily stems and threw the wilted flowers into the compost, you might only see a peaceful bed of daylily foliage surrounded by begonias … and very compact begonias at that (since they were broken off by errant dog feet).
The image that we present to the public doesn’t always include the turmoil within, or the still-festering emotional hurt that might have occurred just yesterday. If you ask a chronic pain sufferer how he is doing, he instinctively knows not to give you a rundown of physical traumas. If the pain is spiritual, the sprucing up of the front of the emotional garden is done even more dilligently.
If we cultivate a habit of treating people as if they might be hurting, or slightly broken, or being tormented by Satan’s schemes, it just might allow people around us to grow and bloom in spite of the damage done.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1).
Well, let’s not proclaim liberty to the dogs that should be on leashes, but let’s help those people around us who have been brokenhearted!