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Wednesday, August 9, 2006
"'Stop!' Samuel said to Saul. 'Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.' 'Tell me,' Saul replied" (1 Samuel 15:16).
Our dog, Roxie, is full of energy and thoroughly enjoys walking and running. Since we live on a country road that gets very little traffic I've found a good way to exercise both Roxie and myself; I ride my bike as she runs along behind me. Of course I watch for any traffic as we head for the tractor trails near our house. When I get to an open area between the road and a farm field I yell out "grass" and she runs along the grass.
But if she sees a bunny or squirrel she loses all sense of restraint and will recklessly dart out after it. The other night Brooksyne and I were out riding with her and she took off into a soybean field on a chase. As she ran through the field you could see the moving indentation of the plants as she sped through the field. We pulled our bikes over as we enjoyed watching the unusual sight where it looked like a scene from "Roadrunner" when he runs so fast he simply leaves behind brown dust on a winding trail. The difference with this picture is that it was row after row of swaying lush green soybeans. Eventually after she suffered defeat in the long chase she made her way out of the dense field of soybeans.
One very important demanding word that we have taught her is "Stop". If a car is coming or she tries to dart into the road or run away from us I shout "STOP". She has learned to immediately stop and sit down, looking up at me as if to say, "What did I do wrong now?"
"Stop" is not one of our favorite words and certainly not for children or dogs. But as we grow older we recognize it's packed with meaning and is a good word in our vocabulary. In our responsibilities in caring for children and pets we often use this word to redirect one's behavior or for safety prevention. It's an extremely important word and does not always have a negative connotation.
In our daily text Saul disobeyed God and Samuel's word was that of judgment. On this occasion Saul did stop and reluctantly received the message. I consider today the many ways that God has provided His command to "STOP" as a loving warning to His children. Yet we are often torn between the desire to obey and the strong appeal to disobey.
I pray for myself as well as each reader that we will recognize the motivation of love behind God's "stops." I'm thankful for the loving God we serve this morning who still says "Stop". May our ears be quick to listen and our hearts be prompt to obey the voice of the Lord.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Brooksyne's prayer: Jesus, would You help me to be quick to recognize and respond to Your promptings. Often You speak to me through Scripture, daily prayer, and other believers. You also speak to me through the undesirable consequences that come from acts of disobedience. May I see Your cautions and "stops" as part of Your loving way of keeping me from danger and redirecting me to that which will be of blessing in my life and to those around me. Amen.
Additional story: Today's story brings to mind another dog story from about eight years ago when we lived in New England. I was doing some work around the exterior of the church and parsonage. Brooksyne was talking to me and inadvertently left the gate on our deck open. It didn't take but a couple seconds for our dog Penny to discover the open gate and venture out. At the same time a lady was walking her dog across the road and Penny saw it.
Now we lived on a very busy main street through Taunton, Massachusetts (US Highway 44), and Penny darted toward the dog. I shouted "Penny STOP" as she got about ½ way through the front yard. She turned and looked at me and then at the walking dog and then ran right onto the highway toward the other dog just as a big truck was coming through. The truck driver laid on the brakes and I turned my head to avoid the certain carnage. I turned back to see what happened and Penny came darting back toward me with a terrified look. I caught her and returned her to the deck. The smell of truck brakes lingered in the air about five minutes.
Just as my dog Penny escaped tragic consequences for her moment of disobedience, I thank God for His grace manifested when we have failed to heed His loving "Stop". Yet surely we wouldn't be presumptuous would we? If Penny went out to play near the highway often she would probably become accustomed to the loud traffic and even the sounds and smell of squealing brakes. She might get comfortable out there if she made it across the highway a few times. Isn't that the way so many respond to God, particularly those living in rebellion?
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
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