THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

March 13, 2013

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Our puppy has a favorite game that he enjoys playing with me and Jon. A few months ago I bought him a little soft green frog that is about 4 inches long, and it is by far his favorite toy. He carries it around in his mouth, and has even tried to sneak it outside a few times when we've let him out. We take him out first thing in the morning, and when he comes back inside he will run into the living room and find his little frog and bring it upstairs where we're getting ready for the day.

Sammie likes for us to throw his toy frog, then he chases after it and brings it back to us.... and this game can go on and on and on. The thing is, very seldom will Sammie bring the frog back and drop it for us to pick up. He will clamp down with his mouth and want us to tug at it, until he decides to let go. Sometimes when we reach out to grab hold of it, he will either turn his head or back up right before we can touch it. He might do this a few times, until we stop trying, then he will either jump up on our lap or paw at our hand wanting us to try and get the frog. There have been times when Jon will be playing a game on his iPad, and Sammie will climb up on Jon's chest and get right in his face. If Jon pushes him back, then Sammie will start pawing at his hand. If I'm using my laptop or reading, Sammie will paw at my hand until I reach out and grab hold of the frog. If we're lying in bed, Sammie will paw at our hands until we are able to latch onto the frog. He really is wanting us to play, but also seems to want us to work at grabbing onto it. It's all part of his game.

There have been times when Jon will be in the shower and I will be standing in front of the mirror putting on makeup or fixing my hair, and Sammie will come in and drop the frog at my feet, then jump up on me until I notice and throw it. He will fetch it, and come back again and again. But more times then not, he doesn't willingly let go of it and this seems to be about the only time he will actually drop it.

Sammie is persistent until one of us finally grabs onto the frog's head or legs and holds on. When he gets ready, then he will let go and immediately jump down to run after it, assuming that one of us will throw it for him. But it all has to do with his timing and when he is willing to open his mouth and let loose. If he doesn't see the direction that we threw it, then sometimes it will take him a while to find it, but he always manages to locate it and bring it back so we can continue to play his game with him.

There have been times when we will be sitting on the couch and Sammie will jump up and lay in the recliner with the frog in his mouth. He will drop it on the floor, then look at us as if he wants us to get up and pick it up for us. Eventually he will jump down and get it himself.

There is an old song that says, "Leave them there; leave them there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there."

That's easier said than done. When we are dealing with problems, habits, difficult situations, worries, or a need it is often very hard for us to take them to Jesus and leave them with Him to take care of. We may pray about them, but then instead of leaving them in the hands of Jesus, we will get up and pick them back up to carry around with us.

We are much like Sammie with his toy frog. We may eventually let go, but then we immediately run after them and pick them up again. We will clamp down on them, wanting God to take them from us and help us, but yet not completely willing to let go. We want God to "fix them" for us, but yet we have a difficult time surrendering them to His care.

Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your cares (other versions say burdens) on the Lord and He will sustain you (take care of you); He will never let the righteous fall."

Psalm 68:19 says, "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Another version reads, "Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms."

I Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." Another version reads, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you."

Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Sammie has newer, better toys that we have tried to get him to play with. He will do so for a short time, then will always go back to that same little frog that he has chewed on for weeks now. The squeaker is broken in it and after carrying it around in his mouth, it is pretty dirty; and we're pretty sure that one of these days when we tug on the head or feet, they're going to pull off. Sammie has a little stuffed duck about the same size and Jon will throw it for him to chase, but Sammie will run to where it is, sniff at it a little, then leave it there without picking it up. He has an antler and a little rawhide shoe that he chews on, but the frog is his favorite and what he continually goes back to.

God can put better things in our life, but there are times when we totally disregard those blessings and will continue to go back to our old habit, worry, fear, or burden that we've been carrying around with us. We may "sniff" around at it and think, "Oh that's nice!", but then we turn around and go back to that thing that God is trying to take care of for us and pick it up again.... and again.... and again.

We sometimes wonder why we are struggling for so long and feel sorry for ourselves and have pity parties; and think, "I've prayed and prayed about this, and it just seems like God isn't answering." But we may need to stop and ask ourselves if the issue is not in God not answering, but in us not letting go and allowing Him to work.

God promises that if we will cast all our cares, worries, troubles, anxieties, and burdens on the Lord; then He will sustain us, take care of us, give us rest, and carry us in His arms. But we have to be willing to let go of them and allow God to take care of them. I'd much rather allow God to take care of me, give me rest, and carry me in His arms; rather than be anxious, burdened, and worried. But I have to be willing to leave those things that weigh me down in His capable hands and not try to keep trying to take care of them myself. I also have to stop dragging them around with me everywhere I go.

Sometimes we're like Sammie, who will paw at our hands and will go back and forth between me and Jon, trying to get one of us to take notice of him. He is persistent until he finds one of us who will stop what we're doing and take time to play with him. We will go back and forth between God and our spouse or a friend, trying to find the one that we think will give us the most sympathy and will listen to us or try to help us. Too often, we "think" that people are the answer and will go to them before or instead of going to God.

How about you? Do you cast your cares on God, and leave them with Him, trusting that He loves you and will take care of you? This isn't something that someone can do for you or make you do, but it's something we each have to choose to do for ourselves.

It's easy to say the words but harder to actually do. I believe that's why Psalm 68:18 says that God daily bears our burdens. Sometimes we have to choose daily to let go of those things that weigh us down. When we find ourselves picking them back up, then we have to release them over and over again until we let go completely. And we must daily remind ourself of God's promises to carry us and give us rest!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Sometimes holding onto our burdens is an emotional decision. Other times, it may be more literal. If our burden is a lost spouse, we might keep their clothes and other personal items around for no reason except as a reminder to feel bad. If our burden is an addiction, we may keep whatever we are addicted to. If our burden is a bad relationship with someone we shouldn't be around, we may keep in touch with them.

Leaving our burden with Jesus may be more than just a decision. We may also need to get rid of the things that represent that burden. Spring is getting close. Maybe this is a good time for some Spring cleaning.

ON THE MENEWE:

California Vegetables

16 oz. Pkg. frozen mixed California vegetables

1 tube Ritz crackers, crushed

8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed

1 stick butter, melted

Cook vegetables as directed on package; mix in Velveeta. Mix butter and cracker crumbs together. Place vegetables in casserole dish and top with cracker mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Many times kids will go through a stage where they have an imaginary friend. I did this when I was probably around 4 years old. My imaginary friend's name was Loretta Martin. She would come and play with me when I was outside and my sisters were at school or busy. I would talk to her and pretend that she was there with me. Finally, the day came when she left and in my mind I saw her ride away on a horse.... and that was the last I talked about her and in my imagination she was gone.

My great-nephew recently went through a stage where he had an imaginary brother. He pretended that his foot was his brother and named him "Stickfoot". His foot would talk to his mama.

My great-niece had an imaginary friend several month ago -- and it was Spiderman. She would walk around holding her hand out to the side and would say that she was holding Spiderman's hand.

Having a vivid imagination and pretending is a great, fun thing for kids to do!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

It is a sign of strength, not of weakness, to admit that you don't know all the answers. - John Lougbrane

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org