He whines incessantly behind the closed door because he wants to see her. She cries and points to the closed door because she wants to see him. We open the door and let him in. Instantly, he quits whining. Just as quickly, she quits crying. He walks toward her. She starts to pet him. He barks. She runs away crying, scared to death. He runs after her and barks even louder. We put him in the other room and shut the door. He whines and wants to see her. She cries and wants to see him. The cycle goes on and on like a merry-go-round. This was the scenerio between my dog and my young granddaughter during the holidays.
We realized Magnolia (Maggie) and Zero (yes, my dog’s name is a number) have developed a weird kind of love/hate relationship. Actually, it’s quite funny to watch because we can tell Maggie really wants to love on him and give him a hug, but she is still so young and tiny that when he barks it literally scares the tee tee out of her and she claws and climbs up her momma like a monkey up a banana tree. Zero, on the other hand, is so intrigued by this little person who has invaded our home that he wants to be as close to her as he possibly can but there is one slight problem — he is a barker. Try as he may, he cannot seem to keep his mouth shut. (I can relate and sympathize with his problem completely). So, as soon as Maggie reaches out to touch him, he says hello (bark)! And here we go again.
Love/hate relationship. As I think about this idea, my mind goes back to a scripture that Paul wrote concerning the things he hates and wishes he could stop, but somehow keeps on doing. When he penned these words, I believe his heart was in great turmoil over his spiritual desire and his fleshly tendencies: Romans 7:14-17 — For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.
My heart goes out to Paul, and to Zero on this one because I struggle in this same battle. I want to do what is spiritual and right, but my flesh constantly creeps up and gets in the way. I haven’t heard it in awhile, but there used to be an old saying: “The devil made me do it.” Most of the time, the devil is not my problem — I am my own worst enemy. My flesh rears its ugly head in the form of things like my mouth spouting off smart-aleck words I wish I could take back, (bark!), or lack of self-discipline on my part to follow through on a promise I have made, (growl!), or perhaps simply not staying in the Word as much as I know I should. (bark! growl! hiss!) It’s the spiritual things my heart wants to do, but my flesh is weak and gives in to those same old habits and desires. And here we go again.
Maggie will soon grow out of her fear of Zero and they will become friends. I am not concerned that she will always have a fear of dogs. Time and maturity will most likely take care of that. However, the protective Granna in me is not so certain about Zero. I will not take my eye off him for too long when she is in his presence, for you see, he is getting on up there in age and he is a terrier/dachshund mix. By nature he is a barker, but also by nature he is a nipper and snapper. He will nip a stranger’s heels and snap at him if one is not careful. So, I will never allow too much comfort to come between him and my precious granddaughter — its simply not worth the risk and I know I will never be able to change the nature in which Zero was born.
But as for the love/hate relationship I share with Paul, that is one in which I feel just as strong as protecting my granddaughter. I will continue to fight this flesh as long as I am here on earth, I know that. But I also know the power that dwells within me is greater than my flesh and I can overcome some of my fleshly tendencies. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh… and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. II Cor. 10: 3, 5b.
My relationship with Jesus is precious to me, and it is well worth the daily fight I have with my flesh. I have victory today over many areas of my flesh that have been a long battle, but there are still those chosen few that I believe could perhaps be a fight until my last breath. Through the grace of my Lord, hopefully that last breath with not be “Bark!”