We (surprise, surprise) live in the Boonies. We have an electric fence that our dogs have been trained to stay inside. The fence wire (which is an underground wire) has broken somewhere along the 5 acre perimeter. In fact, it’s been broken for several months, and we don’t have the money to hire the guy to come out and fix it. And Deacon D. Dawg, the white Labrador, has just figured out in the last week that he can get out of our yard, and go on field trips late at night. He has also taken to studiously ignoring us when it’s time to come back in after doing his nightly business. (And no, there’s nothing wrong with his hearing. His nose and innate stubbornness are just trumping any desire he might have once had to obey us.) And I am unwilling to wade out into the chiggers and the ticks and the poison ivy that are also known as our yard, in the pitch black of night, to go get him and drag him back into the house.
He is also scared to death of the flies and wasps that are flying outside our home in the heat of the day. He doesn’t WANT to be walked during the daytime. He tucks his tail and lies down as flat as he can on the kitchen floor when we put his collar and leash on him to walk him in the daytime. As in, “Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please don’t make me go on walkies where those mean old wasps and bees might get me!!!!”
We live in the woods. About a mile down the road, it dead ends, so at night, about the only traffic on our road is people coming home from a party or from working late shift. No street lights. Very few houses. Consequently, it is black at night. Blacker than black. As in, I can’t see a stinking thing but some twinkly stars, half a jillion fireflies, and the occasional flash of heat lightning that is typical of hot humid Southern nights.
And now, we get to the “have you lost your ever loving mind???” part of this post.
So, for the last three nights in a row, I have been walking Deakie Boy in the pitch black of night. With no flashlight. I like to think of it as a faith walk. Because, I tell you, I am REALLY walking by faith and not by sight. It started as a fluke. I was just going to walk him to the end of the driveway and back. As I was heading out the door, I thought, well, the last time I walked a dog, I really messed up my knee, so maybe I’ll take the phone along with me, so that my dear husband can rescue me if I, like the woman in the commercial, find that, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” But then, as I stepped out the door, I thought, “I haven’t heard from my friend Chloe in quite a while. I think I’ll give her a call.” And there she was, home, and ready to chat, and we got to talking, and I got to the end of my driveway, and I thought, “Well, my knee can go a little farther.” And it’s amazing how talking with your friend heart to heart is so refreshing, and GOOD for your soul. It’s great medicine. So, I told Chloe that I was taking my life in my hands, walking along in the pitch black of night, and I said, “If you hear me scream, hang up on me and call the house phone and tell the Big Bison to go outside and scrape me up off the pavement. It’s OK. I won’t be mad if you hang up on me if you call to get help!”
I have new respect for the visually impaired. I mean it. I do. Walking along when you can barely see your hand in front of your face is kind of a daring, crazy thing to do. Outside the natural for me, for sure.
So, anyway, to tie all this in with the verses I’ve been studying on the fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness is the next quality that I have been thinking about. And this foolhardy thing that I’ve been doing – (walking without a flashlight – because how else can I hold the leash AND my cell phone, otherwise??? And stop telling the computer screen it should use a head lamp, smartiepants!)- is sort of like what it is like when the believer tries to live his or her life in accordance what their faith tells them to be true, rather than what their circumstances are screaming at them to do.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And I will tell you quite frankly that I struggle with talking to the invisible God. (Not that I’d do much better talking to an idol – that would be WORSE!) But I start praying and I find myself being figuratively poked and prodded by a very real enemy who wants nothing more than to fill me with doubts in regard to prayer. Ephesians 6 talks about the fiery darts of the enemy, and honestly, that is exactly what I am experiencing when I approach prayer: the last thing the enemy wants is for me to have communion with my Abba. So he launches an attack on my mind. What is it that Paul says will extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one? It’s our faith! It’s choosing to believe that we have a God that is more real than the very skin we walk around in, more real than anything we can see or touch. We have a God who has revealed to us His character, and He Himself IS the very definition of faithful. So, if we base our faith on HIM, and on His Son, who demonstrated that same character when He lived and walked among us, we find ourselves shielded, both behind and before, by THEIR faithfulness. Their faithfulness is our shield: get the picture?
And, if the fruit of the Holy Spirit is faithfulness, that means that a result of having the Spirit of the Living God living inside of me, is that I have all His faithfulness living inside of me as well. Which makes me one great big faith sandwich: shielded by his faith, with faith in the middle as well. And let me tell you friends, He is faithful. His character is certain, He is true, and He is enduring. Therefore, I can be dependable, trustworthy, and persistent, because His Spirit, his character is being worked in me, from the inside out.
Hebrews 11 describes men and women whose lives demonstrated great faith, and among them was a man named Enoch, who lived one of the most famous faith walks of all time. Verses 5 and 6 of that chapter tell us that Enoch was taken from this life, that he did not experience death, and that he was commended as one who pleased God. The account of Enoch’s life in the book of Genesis is oh, so brief, and frankly, to me, quite tantalizing. We are told so little, and yet what we do know is that Enoch lived a life of extraordinary faith. Genesis 5:18-24 tells us that Enoch walked with God, for 365 years, and then he was no more, because God took him away. So putting those two portions of scripture together we can see that this faith walk that Enoch took with God on a daily basis pleased God. Revelation 4:11 says “Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” We were created to bring pleasure to God, and that is exactly what Enoch did. And how did he please God? By walking with God.
It’s choosing to walk with God, for the pleasure of His company, that brings joy to the Father’s heart.
So, I’m not necessarily recommending that everybody go take a walk in the black of night, because that would be foolish. In fact, I admit that I’m just asking for trouble, by doing that. But I do recommend taking a walk with the Father, sharing your heart with Him, and allowing His faithfulness to be your shield and protection.