The black dog stands in the middle of the yard and barks…at nothing. It is often so, these days. I stick my head out the door and shout at him to stop, and he obeys…momentarily. Before I can sit back down in my easy chair, he is in full voice again. I remark to the Lovely Lady how much I enjoyed the winter season so much better. She laughs. “You remember that it’s cold in the winter, right?” I reconsider the statement and explain that I liked it better when the dogs stayed in their warm shed, instead of barking at the wind. Winter, I will never love. The cold chills me to my core, and it is dark.
But, Spring has taken hold of the earth once more in that uncontrollable and tumultuous way which only Spring has. The grass and flowering bushes have remembered what it is they are created for; springing into action, aided by the warmth and the moisture which their Gardener has sent. The leaves of all the trees seem determined to make up for lost time, since they had to wait for the first blush of buds and seeds to be dropped. Their branches are now exploding with all shades of green, catching the gusts and waving in all their glory, almost like victory pennants in the wind. And, every dog in the neighborhood seems to imagine prey to be pursued with each blade of grass that shifts in the breeze; the scrape of limb on limb in the trees is enough to drive them mad with excitement. I have told you that I love the Spring, but this barking? This is enough to make a man repent of all such rash statements!
Oh, to be fair, there are times when the daft creatures have actually spotted something worth announcing. Squirrels in the trees above torment them continually, flipping their tails and “chuck, chuck, chucking” their disdain. The birds actually seem to alight just over their heads and chirp teasingly at them. They have circled the trees endlessly, alternating between barking and standing on hind legs, reaching as high at they can toward their annoying tormentors. It’s all to no avail. At no time have they been able to reach the prey, nor have they even quieted the taunts for more than a moment at a time.
The bewildering wrinkle in all of this is the puppies’ food. No, I don’t expect them to bark at it, but you would think that with all their vigilance, they would guard the one tangible asset they actually have, wouldn’t you? Yet, day after day, I feed them at the back door, placing voluminous amounts of puppy food in their dishes. And, day after day, they pick at it for a moment and then go to a different corner of the yard, to bark and sleep, completely ignoring the flocks of birds that descend from the treetops to eat their kibbles and carry them off, one by one. They care not one whit for the thief that they might be able to apprehend, but remain constantly alert for the sneak that might alight in their trees, far beyond any hope of capture. Stupid creatures!
I say the words and immediately, I find myself realizing how closely I resemble the silly canines, in spite of my annoyance with them. It becomes clear that I also don’t always know the difference between the wind and reality. I chase shadows and prey which will never come within my grasp. Why is it that we are so quick to bark our alarm at imminent danger in locales we will never visit, but allow the enemies to creep into our own home and take the food off of our table? How is it possible that we lose perspective as easily as this? I hope it doesn’t make you angry that I say “we” when I speak of these things. But, if you will take a moment to consider, you will surely be able to identify with the dogs, or if it makes you more comfortable…with me. You know of situations, probably ongoing, about which you exclaim loudly, realizing that you can have no possible influence on the problem. And, you can undoubtedly think of issues which could be confronted and corrected, but you can’t be bothered. So, you bark at shadows, and chase the wind, wasting time and effort that can ill afford to be expended without results.
I’m grateful that we humans have the ability to reason, the means to make changes. Our Creator intends for us to use our superior intellect to effect change in the world, and as we seek to bring glory to Him, we will take steps to do more than bark wildly at things which we cannot change. It’s essential that we quit wasting valuable time and focus on the situations in which we can actually make a difference.
I’m thinking that this barking at the wind might not be the best use of my time. I’m also guessing that you’re ready to quit running in circles too. Maybe together, we can do less barking and more biting. It’s worth a shot.
“Be clear minded and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
(I Peter 5:8)
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
(Thomas Alva Edison~American inventor~1847-1931)