Stripped Naked and Barefoot

Isaiah… the well known prophet who foretold the birth of Jesus 700 years before He was born. Isaiah… who so famously said to The Lord, “Here am I. Send me!” That same Isaiah walked around stripped naked and barefoot for 3, yes… 3 LONG years!

We find this short story in Isaiah 20:2-4. “At that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.”

Every time I read this Scripture I cringe. First of all, because I can’t even imagine the shame and humiliation involved with walking around naked for 3 years. Second of all, because I can just picture myself in Isaiah’s position:
“But Lord, are you sure about this? Don’t you think 30 minutes would do the trick?”
“But Lord, no one will ever take me seriously again!”
“Lord, shouldn’t we consider what kind of example this will set for my children?”

It is not recorded in Scripture that Isaiah objected in any way to what the Lord told him to do. Does this mean that Isaiah felt no shame or humiliation? I’m almost positive that he did. How could he not? He was a public figure. A messenger for The Lord. Everyone knew he was naked and barefoot. He couldn’t hide. He had the Lord’s work to do. Isaiah did what The Lord asked him to do and he obviously did it well.

It is easy for us to sing the chorus in church “Here I am Lord…I will go Lord, if You lead me”, but wow! Will I go naked? When this question comes to my mind, I think of the verse which is ironically in the book of Isaiah.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Our simple minds cannot comprehend all the ways of The Lord. Isaiah understood this fact and obeyed with complete trust. God had a plan. Isaiah was blessed to be used by God as a part of His plan. If Isaiah had not trusted God and obeyed, I believe God would have used someone else to carry out His plan. Just think of all that Isaiah would have missed.

God most likely will not ask me to walk around stripped naked and barefoot, but He almost certainly will ask me to do things that are out of my comfort zone. These are the times that I need to remember this life on earth is not about me. It’s about Him. It’s not about my comfort and security. It’s about seeking His face, hearing His voice, and obeying with complete trust. It’s about bringing glory to His name.

Lord, help me to be sincere when I say, “Here am I. Send me!” Increase my faith and build my trust so that no matter what You call me to do, I will obey without hesitation. Help me to lay aside my pride and serve You with complete devotion. Remove my concerns with what the world thinks of me, and help me instead to be totally consumed with Your will.

Trusting Him,
Karen

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Lessons From a Dog

We have a dog named, Baxter. He is short, fat, and black. A mix of dachshund and corgi. My Mom found him in her pasture with a plastic coffee jar stuck on his head. Apparently, he had been looking for food and had gotten himself into a bit of a mess. At just 8 weeks old, he was a pitiful little sight with an injured ear and more fleas than you could count.

My children had been begging for a dog, so there you go. They thought God had delivered a puppy to their doorstep in response to their prayers. (I won’t tell you what my husband thought!)

Baxter has been with us for 2 1/2 years now. Below you will find a few lessons I’ve learned from him. Even though these are behaviors I’ve observed in a dog, I think they can be applied to our lives as Christians. Simple, basic lessons.

*Bark if there’s danger. Someone will rescue you. Once inside, relax and be at peace.

Baxter is a barker. He barks a lot. But if he senses danger, he will bark even after the danger has passed. He will bark until someone lets him come in the house and rest safely in his cage. Once inside, he is completely at peace. Isn’t that how we are when turmoil arises in our lives? We cry out to the Father. More so than any other time. He hears us and draws us to Himself where we can be comforted and find peace.

*If someone gives you a bone, hide it. It is your treasure.

Baxter hides his bones. Even if it’s pouring down rain. He treasures them and saves them for later. God tells us to treasure His Word and hide it in our hearts. Why should we hide it in our hearts? So that the treasure of God’s Word will be there when we need it. So we can pull it out and apply it to each life situation as needed.

*If you’re hungry, go straight to your master. Ignore everyone who tries to distract you along the way.

Baxter likes to run in the door without permission. Once inside, it becomes total chaos. He runs straight for the cat’s food. The children scream like…well…like children and convince themselves it is the perfect excuse to run wild in the house. Of course, Baxter, in spite of his fat tummy that almost touches the floor, outsmarts them every time. The children dive and jump and Baxter gets away.

After observing the excitement for a few minutes, I decide it’s time to restore order. I call, “Baxter” and he’s at my feet within seconds. He knows I’m his master. I’m the one who consistently takes care of him. He also knows I will give him something good to eat if he obeys me.

So when we are hungry for God, we should avoid the chaos and distractions around us. We should run as fast as we can to receive the good things He has to give us.

*Know the difference between friends and enemies.

We have a cat named, Tiger. Tiger was here long before Baxter arrived. I’m not sure if you can say a thought crosses a cat’s mind, but if that’s possible, I can honestly say the thought to like Baxter has never crossed Tiger’s mind. Tiger despises Baxter. If he is ever near him, he hisses. If Baxter ventures too close, Tiger strikes with his paw. Tiger is an enemy to Baxter.

However, when we board Baxter during vacations, he stays in a boarding place that has a resident cat. Guess who sleeps with Baxter almost every night? Yes, the cat. Baxter knows the difference between a friend and an enemy. He avoids Tiger at all costs, but allows the friendly, resident cat to share his bed.

We, like Baxter, should be fully aware of the difference between friends and enemies. There are people in our lives who will try to tear us down by pulling us away from God. If they are enemies of God, we should avoid them.

Does this mean we shouldn’t share Christ and His salvation with those who don’t know Him? Not at all. We should tell them about Jesus and all He has done for us. We should pray that they will allow Christ to be The Lord of their lives. But if they do not believe, we should not allow them to become so close to us that they begin to influence the way we live. Remember the example of a person standing in a chair and a person on the floor. It’s much easier to pull someone down than to pull them up.

Our friends who are closest to us should have the same beliefs and values that we have. This way we can encourage each other to follow God’s ways. We can hold each other accountable as well as love and care for each other. These are true friends.

I started wondering if this post was a little silly to compare a dog and a Christian, but then I found this quote from John Calvin.

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

It appears that he learned a lesson from a dog as well. 😄

Karen

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But Will You Still Give Me Hugs and Kisses?

What is your love language? This is the question I asked my 11 year old son, Jonathan and my 9 year old daughter, Emory last night before bed. My 7 year old son, Benjamin, had already fallen asleep after playing with great determination in his second basketball game of the season.

Jonathan and Emory looked quite puzzled in response to my question. I had listened online to a Focus on the Family radio broadcast with Gary Chapman. He is the author of The 5 Love Languages of Children. This had sparked my interest concerning the love languages of my own children.

First of all, what is a love language? I described it to my children as the way you prefer for someone to show you they love you. Chapman says the 5 love languages are acts of service, quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, and gifts. After discussing it for a while, Jonathan and Emory each decided which way they prefer for us to show them we love them. We talked and laughed and they also guessed which love language I prefer the most.

This morning I explained it all to Benjamin, who had slept through the conversation last night. Immediately after I described each love language to him, he said, “I like to spend time with you!” He was very proud of himself for being able to answer so quickly and definitely. Within a few seconds however, he sadly and almost desperately said, “But will you still give me hugs and kisses?”

I quickly explained that I will always give him hugs and kisses. I told him that just because he likes to spend quality time with me doesn’t mean I won’t also love him by giving him gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, and yes…hugs and kisses.

Don’t you just love the way the mind of a child works? Even Emory, who had decided last night that her love language is physical touch (with quality time being a close second), asked me this morning if I can still give her gifts. 😊 Jonathan had a difficult time deciding, but he was sure to let me know that even though he put quality time at the top of his list, he’s hoping I will still perform acts of service for him (i.e. Please clean my room for me sometimes, Mom.)

The ongoing conversation made me laugh. I explained again that I will love them in ALL ways. We were simply trying to decide which love language we lean toward the most.

I laughed at my children, but I’m very much the same. I told my husband that I lean toward words of affirmation, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Maybe I should have said acts of service?” I do feel quite loved when he helps me clean the house!

As I remember these moments with a smile on my face, I am reminded of my Heavenly Father. I am comforted by the knowledge that He loves me. He loves me in every way I can possibly imagine. He loves me in ways I don’t even realize or comprehend. I don’t have to worry that He might be too busy to spend quality time with me or that He could possibly forget to bless me with gifts.

As an earthly mother, I’m positive there are days that I fail to express my love to my children as I should. Not so with God. Every moment of every day, He reveals His love to me. He has given His Son to redeem my life. He is the Creator of the Universe and He calls me His own. He reveals Himself to me through the Scripture and is listening whenever I call. He always has time for me. He always comforts me. He guides me and protects me. He blesses me with unimaginable gifts. He is the ultimate Father.

My children are correct to fear that if I focus on spending quality time with them I might forget to give them hugs and kisses. I am only human. They know me well enough to realize I am not perfect.

Aren’t we thankful that God is perfect? He knows how to love us in every good way. He knows what we need and when we need it. He doesn’t have to ask what our love language is…He already knows.

Resting in His Love,
Karen

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