The Battle of the Bear

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me."  Luke 13:34

Some days are harder than others.  

Today was one of those harder days.  It wasn't harder emotionally or because some tragedy happened.  It wasn't harder even because of some crazy circumstance outside the sphere of my human control.  It was hard because it was dog-washing day.  Let me explain.

Our family has a beloved dog named Little Bear.  He is named Little Bear partly because he looks like a little bear (black, half Chow and half Eskimo Spitz), and partly because he has the fierce warrior fight of an actual bear.  In his prime, he took down and tangled with predators large and small in defense of our family.  It was the stuff legends are made of.

Now in his twilight at seventeen-plus people years of age, his hearing is all but gone and the cataracts in his eyes have left the family favorite--for all practical purposes--blind.  His legs have grown unsteady now, and he has trouble making it up and down the stairs, with snaps and pops of his frail joints as he moves.  Considering all this, and knowing Little Bear to be a creature of habit that is not fond of baths, we have gone easy on the fella--until this morning.

Coming down the stairs this morning, my nose was greeted by Little Bear before seeing him, and I knew the time had come.  It was time for a bath.

The strategy was this:  (1) Lay the soap, towel, brush and hose out in the backyard in preparation; (2) Take him on a quick walk around the block to stretch his legs and take care of business; and, (3) Do the deed.  

It seemed like a good plan.

Steps 1 and 2 came off without a hitch.  Then there was step 3.  I didn't anticipate how much fight the old rascal still had in him.  I had him by the leash and hosed him down good, lathered him up, but then he bit me and got away.  Each time I tried to corral him, he did this tuck and lunge move (very effective), and ran away at top speed--like a young pup.  I finally just aimed the hose at him until all the bubbles were gone, grabbed him and toweled him off.  Unfortunately, when I took a whiff, he was just as pungent as he was coming down the stairs this morning.

Plan B:  (1) Lay heavy duty shampoo and conditioner out by the kitchen sink with a new towel and the brush; (2) Stabilize his legs comfortably across both sides of the sink; and, (3) Prepare the lukewarm water before placing him in the sink, and cradle his head in my arm to keep him comfortable.

Again, it seemed like a good plan, and steps 1 and 2 came off without a hitch, as did part of step 3.  It was the "keep him comfortable" part that didn't seem to work.  He squirmed, bit, fought, and worked himself into such a frenzy that becoming clean became a fierce battle (think, "I Fought the Law and the Law Won").

The brushing and drying was even worse.  He had the opportunity to lay still and allow me to dry and brush him, but he chose to run.  By this time, I was exhausted and allowed him to go his own way.  After a few minutes of shivering and shaking, he finally returned and allowed me to dry him off and brush him.  He is now sleeping soundly with clean fur in a clean bed.

I wonder.

How often do we put God through the Battle of the Bear?  Our lives stink to high heaven, but we have grown nose blind and comfortable in our own stinch.  When God lovingly tries to clean us up because our stink is both unhealthy and reflects badly on His name, we fight Him, don't we?  We fight the One who has proven Himself faithful and true to us--the One who is the source of anything and everything good in our lives and in this world at all.

Isaiah 30:15 tells us, "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it."

Oh, that we would return to our Sovereign Lord, allowing Him to cleanse us of sin, waiting and resting quietly before Him--the One who has proven Himself faithful time and time and time again.

Goodnight, Runners.