Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Over-Protective is Impossible

Over Protective is Good
 When Jerry and I got married many years ago Jerry was already a hunter.  He was quite at home in the woods.  However, he just wasn’t as cautious as I wanted him to be.  I don’t mean he wasn’t safety conscience when it came to gun safety.  I mean he wasn’t really cautious enough in the woods.  After all, that fictional character called ‘mother nature’ is vicious.  She is out to torture and kill everyone on the planet.  Her weapons include weather, terrain, wild animals, fear, famine, flood, drought, and lots of other things.  She can even get a tree or rock to come crashing down for no apparent reason and crush an unsuspecting hunter. 

 Fortunately for Jerry, I got him the necessary equipment for hunting right away.  We got married in August and he was all set to go before the first day of deer season.  I mean he was ready!  He was also very strong, thank goodness.  He needed all that strength to carry the things I got for him to ensure his safety.  (What he actually needed was a ‘burden bearer’ to go with him and carry all his stuff.)

 I got him a good compass, a whistle, and a case for water proof matches.  I hung all those on a sturdy string, and hung it around his neck before he was allowed to go out hunting.

  I also got him a canteen.  He was no longer allowed to drink out of streams in case there was a beaver in the area.  You really cannot be too careful where there is a possibility of beaver fever! 

 He also had to wear a water proof hat in case of rain.  He had a lightweight rain poncho tucked safely coat pocket just in case he was caught in a blinding rain storm.

 He had to carry relatively small back pack filled with some food, extra matches, canned sterno, water, band-aids, and a few other things that were absolutely necessary.

 He really was supposed to carry the hunting horn as well just in case he needed to call someone’s dog or call for help if the whistle wasn’t loud enough to be heard

 I also got him a holster for his 22 pistol.  He needed to carry that and at least 200 rounds of ammo.  That was in case he was trapped under a falling tree and was too far away for anyone to hear him blowing his whistle.  Then he was supposed to fire the pistol into the air at a set interval.

Now, boots were also an issue. He wore clunky shoes and boots before I met him.  He had to get over that and wear boots that would protect those skinny ankles and shins from snakes that might still be crawling around instead of hibernating.

 Once I had him all dressed up safely prepared to face the Ouachita wilderness, I sent my dad out hunting with him.  I could go back to sleep without worrying once I knew dad was with him. 

 There was one area where Jerry totally failed.  He was supposed to choose a specific sound and learn to make that sound realistically.  Daddy hooted like an owl.  Everyone in the family knew dad’s owl hoot.  It would let everyone in the woods know where dad was without dad making a noise that might scare the animals.  My granddad was not nearly as subtle as dad.  He did a really good ‘rebel yell’.  Yep, granddad probably learned his yell directly from someone who fought in the civil war.  Jerry just couldn’t do it.  He couldn’t hoot like owl, howl like coyote, or even moo like grandma’s milk cow.  Finally the family voted to keep him anyway.  None of my three brothers could do a good sound either, so they voted in Jerry’s favor.  However he didn’t get out of everything involved in the family hunting expeditions.

 Jerry learned a few things early on. 

First, he HAD to get used to carrying all the stuff I got for him.  There was no way whatsoever he was going to get out of that.  It was for his own good. 

 Second, he learned the lay of the land.  He knew which mountains were situated in what direction from my mom and dad’s home. (The Ouachita’s are sometimes laughed at as not really being mountains.  They are called ‘hills’.  The people laughing have obviously not climbed any of those ‘hills’, nor fought toe to toe with snakes and skunks for territory.’)

 Third, and this is probably the best, he learned that you could hear the roosters crowing from anywhere within walking distance of my grandparents’ home.  Gramps and Gramma lived one holler over from mom and dad.  Jerry actually had it made.  If the weather turned bad or he got hungry, he just followed the sound of the roosters to my grandmother’s kitchen and hid out there until it was an acceptable hour to get back over to mom’s house and act like he was exhausted from all that hunting he had been doing.

 He also learned that if anyone got a deer, everyone in the hunting party was to stop what they were doing and help get the meat taken care of immediately.  He already knew how to field dress a dear, cut it up properly, and cook it!  Well, my dad didn’t have to stop hunting and start helping, but everyone else did.  My mom thought Jerry was from another planet the first time he cut up a deer for her.

 That story is all true.  If you think that story is something – you should hear what happened when my son was born, and when he took his first steps, and learned to ride his spring horse, and then his tricycle.  Don’t worry.  I let him ditch the knee pads and football helmet before he started to school.  I didn’t want to embarrass him or anything.  (Then my baby girl was born….. we just don’t have time for all the details that went along with that blessed event,)

 Some people might call me over protective, but of course they don’t know nuthin.  They are just ignoramuses who need to learn to mind their own business.  The truth is I am NOT over protective.  I do not have the capacity to be protective enough.  I cannot be with my loved ones constantly.  And, even when I am with them, I cannot protect them from everything.  Early on I learned that the best thing to do for my family was commit them into the care of Jesus Christ every day.  He alone has the ability to be with them every single second of every day. 

 He provides for his children the things and knowledge that are necessary for safety.  He thinks of every contingency.  He has safety nets everywhere.  He never gives us permission to take off our helmets and knee pads.  If ever there was a leader who wanted the motto of His followers to be ‘be ‘prepared, it is Jesus Christ.

The Bible is our key to being prepared, to avoiding danger, to knowing what to do when danger comes our way.

 I know most people reading this have been over the instructions in the Bible many times.  Most of the readers have actually taken to heart to do the things Christ says to do.  They make an effort daily to do the act like the Christians they claim to be.

 What I would like to do today is encourage Christians to re-consider all the good things God does for his children on a daily basis. He has the capacity to KNOW what dangers we face and provide a path to safety.  He knows what dangers lie ahead.  He knows our temptations. He knows what we will need. 

 Sometimes the world seems overwhelmingly ‘out to get us’. Honestly, that is what the world and its leaders do.  They try to crush the opposition.  Anyone or anything that stands in their way is automatically in the cross hairs of some sort of high powered magnification devise.  One false step, like drinking unpasteurized cow’s milk and the weight of the federal government will come down on you in full force.  There are even ‘trash police’ in some places who go around checking garbage to make sure you are getting an acceptable amount of your trash in the recycle bin.

 In these uncertain times, it is really important that Christians are not overwhelmed by the fast paced word in which we live.  We should not let our focus be on the dangers surrounding us, but rather on the protection of our God.  God provides for us in ways that are obviously miraculous and ways that are much more subtle. It is good to make a specific effort every day to see the hand of God in our lives. Sometimes we can be so bogged down with cares that we miss a real miracle.  Other times we miss the good things God does for us everyday because we are looking for an obvious miracle.  Look for God.  I don’t mean look for His face in a holy tortilla or an apparition of some so called holy something or other.  Just look for God.  He is with you. Whether He provides for your needs through an obvious miracle, or by common means, He is providing you with ‘daily benefits’.  His goodness toward His children will never fail.  Look at what the Psalms have to say.

 Psalm 68:19

 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah

 What are some of the benefits with which the Lord loads you every day?  Usually we get something to eat, something to wear, and a place to lay our weary heads.  We have some measure of health if we are still breathing.  God gives us strength in trials.  God also teaches us things during trials.  God gives us direction in one way or another.  If He didn’t give you one thing you wanted, it is because He has something else for you.  The thing is for Christians to take the time to consider their daily benefits.  Don’t make light of the good things God gives you just because He gives them to you all the time.  God gives us forgiveness.  We can have a clean slate with which to begin each day.  God’s mercies are new every morning.  We should acknowledge them and appreciate them.  The old song ‘Count your Blessings’ is a good way to begin each day.   Take the time to memorize this song.  It is a mood changer and burden lightener,

 Psalm 103:2

 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Keep your heart and mind focused on the things the Lord has done for you. 

A loving parent or spouse WANTS to watch over you and do what is best for you all the time.  Unfortunately, they can’t do that.  And even if they could be with you all the time to take care of you, they actually don’t know what is best in every situation. 

 On the other hand:

God is with you all the time. 

God does know the best way to reach the goal.

God loves you more than your parents or spouse.

 Don’t forget God’s benefits.

Don’t forget that He is a very present help in trouble.  (Psalm 46:1

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.)

 Psalm 116:12

 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?

 Considering all that the Lord has done for you, what is there that you should do for Him? 

I can think of two things to begin with.

 First, the Lord has given us instructions by which we are to live.  The least we can do for Him in return is make a conscience and continual effort to follow His instructions.  That means all of them.  Obey the commandments, and treat others the way we want to be treated.  That includes forgiving others the way Christ has forgiven us

 The second thing is to seek what specific or special thing the Lord asks of you.  We are all called to some sort of life-long missionary service, whether it be living a faithful Christian life in the town in which we grew up, or traveling to a foreign land where not even our native language is spoken.  Whatever the Lord asks of you, go ahead and do it because of the good things the Lord does for you on a daily basis.  He may ask you to continue dealing with a difficult person.  You don’t have to make them your constant companion.  Just treat them like you would want to be treated when you are around them. Remember that you are not befriending them because they deserve it.  You are doing it to please the Lord.  You may find yourself called to work harder for a spouse or employer who does not appreciate your efforts.  It changes your outlook when you do things for the Lord. The Lord always appreciates the things you do to please Him.

You may find yourself called to have patience in boring situations.  Do it to please the Lord.

 Years ago, I was comforted to send my dad out hunting with my husband.  Dad was a very experienced woodsman and hunter.  Dad and Jerry had a lot of good times together.  Life seems more complicated than that now.  People don’t even feel safe going to the grocery store by themselves.  There is no confidence that the things we need will be on the store shelves when we get there.  There is certainly no confidence that the entire world will not be facing famine, pestilence, and war on a large scale at any given moment.  No one knows what to do to be fully prepared for the future.

 Thankfully, God does know what we need for the future.  He is able to be with you every moment of every day.  He is able to provide for you and walk with you through the days ahead.  Take the time to consider what God has done for you, and what you can do for God. 

Do the things you are able to do to provide for your future.

Trust God to take care of the things you are unable to do.