This is Jack.
Jack is an orphan.
No family to call his own.
Forced into a cage of someone else’s making he was left misplaced and frightened by his surroundings. Surely confusion shrouded his lonely soul.
…sent a boy.
And this is where the story begins.
It was a blistering, Sothern California day when I got the call that Elijah had found a dog. In an effort to give Mommy a bit of ‘peace and quiet’ my husband took our 3 children to the local dog shelter to play with the puppies. It was a harmless and fun outing for the kids, right?
On that hot August day the 10-year old boy instantly connected with a raggedy, brown dog. Truly the boy and the ugly mutt became rhythmically joined at the heart.
One. In a single moment.
Most casual bystanders would think that this story continues with tears, begging, pleading and emotion-filled drama. On the contrary. The boy simply said, “He needs me. He is the one for our family. I’m confident that he is our dog. But I will wait for you to pray about it, Mommy.”
What does a mother say to that?
To be honest, I didn’t really want a dog. I already had a household of 5 to clean up after. Why add additional stress to my already taxed life (because everyone knows who REALLY takes care of the family pet – MOM!)
I consented to take the matter to God through prayer. Surely HE would understand my plight as a wife, pastor & homeschool mommy of 3. He, more than anyone, knows and cares about my stress levels and my health. I knew that The Lord would tell me what our family needed to do. He alone would come to my “animal-free” rescue.
… said, “I have given your son a father’s heart. THE Father’s heart. What you don’t see in this dog (looks, character, value, age) your son sees in abundance. He sees beyond the fear & responsibility and instead sees the true nature of the animal that I created just for him. You have a choice to make, Cory. You can kill the discernment and vision in your son or you can let ME cultivate it in him through this dog.”
The next day we came home with a dog.
The truth is that once I saw my boy with this dog, it was apparent. They were meant for each other. Elijah for Jack – Jack for Elijah.
Jack clearly had endured a rough life. He was scared, skittish and scrawny. When anyone approached the dog he would cower and scurry away to a corner. With ears bent, head low and tail between his legs he would search for safety.
And the dog found his refuge.
An orphan no more. He was given a name. He was given a purpose. He was given a family. He was given value.
He was home.
How many of us desire those same things? To be valued? To be loved? To be safe?
Recently, The Lord brought me to Psalm 31. Highlighted over and over was the word REFUGE.
Psalm 31:1-4 (NIV) 1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness. 2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me. 3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me. 4 Free me from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
I love it. But I began to ask myself, “What exactly is a refuge?”
Refuge: A condition of being safe or
sheltered from pursuit, danger or trouble.
The word refuge in Psalm 31 conveys this idea that we can find safety and shelter from trouble when we hide ourselves in God. It reminds me of Jack the Dog hiding behind his boy when he feels scared or vulnerable. Now that Jack is no longer an orphan he has a refuge, a safe place to go, when he needs to be reassured of his adoption.
How about us? How about me? Have I truly grasped the fact that I have been adopted into the family of God? Have I genuinely changed the condition of my heart from that of an orphan to a heart that embraces the spirit of adoption?
Romans 8:14-15 (NIV) 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
In Romans 8 we clearly see that by receiving the spirit of adoption/sonship we no longer need to walk in fear. We can recognize that Papa God is our ultimate shelter from the storm. We need only run to Him when safety, reassurance or belonging is needed. Calling out “Abba, Father” we find rest in our strong fortress and lay down our shame.
But have we fashioned our hearts in such a way that when the winds of life blow we know where to go? When we are scared or in need of shelter from a storm do we run to God as our refuge or do we merely run?
Recently, while visiting our family cabin, Jack the dog decided to BOLT out of the kitchen door at 10:30pm at night. He was gone! For close to an hour I searched, called and canvassed the woods for our orphan dog. The black of night draped the situation with a blanket of despair. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to bring the dog back.
The kids were asleep and I was horrified.
“Are you kidding me? What animal does that?” I thought. He had a nice home, people who adored him and a family that was dedicated to keeping him safe. Never again would he have to worry about where his provision would come from. He was ours and we were his.
Then I began to wonder if the outside world, the aloneness, the fear, the lack of embrace actually felt more comfortable to Jack. It may not have been the better choice but it was simply what he knew. Familiar.
In an act of desperation I looked heavenward, with only diamonds staring back at me, and I screamed, “He is NOT lost! In Jesus’ Name, he is NOT lost!” I continued to pray as my hope slipped into the night.
…heard my prayer and broke the orphan spirit within me.
Suddenly I ran fully to the Father and the wandering dog appeared. A little scared to come back – he came back still. Tail between his legs and head bowed low he walked up the stairs.
This mommy who was previously indifferent & unemotional towards the dog (even made fun of him when the kids couldn’t hear) fell to her knees and embraced the formerly no-named mutt. In the cold, inkiness of night I began to pray that a ‘Spirit of Adoption’ would rest within the dog.
“You have a name.”
“You are loved.”
“You have value.”
“You are beautiful.”
“You are safe.”
“You can find REFUGE here. No more running. No more running!! I promise to always protect you! You don’t need to run any longer.”
As I write this blog there has been a realization that I too, just like my son, am connecting to the heart of the Father God. Abba “Daddy”.
Too many times in our lives it seems like we would fare better if we ‘went it alone’. Running, running, running we try to take care of ourselves.
… steps in and says that He loves you. He names you. He calls you valuable. He beckons you to stop running and just rest in the shelter of His refuge. He calls you son. He calls you daughter.
He says, “I will take you – just the way you are.”
Going Deeper Still:
Romans 8:12-17 (MSG) 12 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. 13 There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. 14 God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! 15 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” 16 God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. 17 And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
- o Take some time to rest in God’s presence and ask,
- § “Papa God, I want to walk in the spirit of adoption. Can you show me what it means to be adopted by you?”
- § “Papa God, Can you show me were I am still embracing an orphan spirit?”
- § “Papa God, Can you show me an area where I am still embracing my old, orphaned life? Can you show me the safety of your refuge and embrace?”