There are two black labs in my backyard.
They’re not all that smart.
I would like to believe I’m much more intelligent than they. Some days (or nights), I think I could even prove the point.
Somehow though, that assumption is not always accurate. Oh, it’s not as if they are as intelligent as I; just that I am as ignorant as they are. Yes, I realize it might be a fine line, but there is a difference. I think. Or is it, I hope?
It was a dark and stormy night—no, really—a dark and stormy night. I was heading to bed after a frustrating non-writing session at the computer when I noticed a noise from the backyard.
The two large dogs, brother and sister, were out in the gale, staring up into the huge mulberry tree. I’ve seen that stance before. They have chased a critter up the tree.
This could take awhile.
There are a few things you should know about this situation. The first is these dogs are stubborn—tenacious—adamant, even.
Bull-headed, the red haired lady who raised me would call it.
I shone my light into the branches of the tree and found the object of their attentiveness. The critter was hiding his face, but as I moved around the storage building in my way, I was rewarded with a glance at his black robber’s mask.
The black monsters had treed a raccoon. The little fellow was lodged in the fork of the branch. He wasn’t budging.
Down on the ground, the black beasts weren’t going anywhere, either.
This didn’t look encouraging.
I asked myself a couple of questions:
The dogs have a really nice, heated dog house in which to pass cold windy nights. Do you suppose they might just get cold and retire to their comfy home?
The trunk of the tree up which the raccoon had clambered is actually outside the fenced yard in which the big black dogs run. Is it possible he would just shinny down the rough bole and scamper across the ground to his lair?
Neither was likely. I did the only thing that made any sense.
I locked the dogs in the storage building. There is a carpet on the floor, laid there for just such eventualities, and I had the foresight to put their water bowl in with them—in case they had worked up a thirst in the commotion.
I locked them in and went to bed. Slept like a baby.
Very early in the morning, I did go outside again. Just for a few seconds. I shone the flashlight up into the tree to be sure, but I knew what I would find. There was no raccoon to be seen.
I opened the door to the storage building. My two best friends lay side by side on the carpet, asleep. It took them a moment to realize I was at the door, but they slowly got to their feet and stretching, ambled outside. It was as if none of the frenetic activity in the wee hours of the morning had happened at all.
As if nothing had happened.
They slept as well as I did. Five feet above the roof of the building in which they slept, the raccoon was lodged in the crook of the tree branch. Yet, they slept as if the critter were ten miles away.
As for the raccoon, his situation was not much different either. Ten feet below him, the great hunters were as close as they had ever been. Maybe closer.
When he could see them, he wasn’t budging. Not an inch. I didn’t stay out to watch, but I don’t imagine it was long after the door closed on the shed that he began his trek down to safety.
May I point out something? It may come as a surprise to you, but the raccoon was never in any danger.
Dogs don’t climb trees. Can’t. Won’t. They weren’t coming up to get him. So, the little fella just waited. Once they were gone, he would move, but not one second before.
But, he could have left the tree at any time he wanted! The tree in which he cowered was planted in a safe place. He never had to cower. Not one moment.
He was always safe.
I wonder. How many days—weeks—years have we cowered here when all we needed to do was walk to freedom?
While we eye the terrifying circumstances circling around us, safety lies as close as a few steps in the right direction.
But first, we have to tear our eyes away from the dreadful creatures below.
Perhaps, we have the need for a loving Creator to make the creatures get out of our sight. But, I’m not sure He needs to make them go away—not even sure if He will make them go away while we live in this world.
What if all that is necessary is for us to see that safety is already ours?
The prophet Elisha’s servant certainly needed that. It was one of my favorite stories in Sunday School many years ago. It still is. The servant rose up early in the morning and saw a terrifying enemy surrounding them. It was all he could see. Chariots and soldiers. Spears and clubs. Arrows and swords. Just imagine the terror. Imagine.
Surely, the prophet could have prayed for escape. A chariot from heaven perhaps? He had seen that chariot before. But no—he prayed that his servant would be able to see. That’s it. Open his eyes, Lord. He needs to see. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
Personally, I still find it hard to say the words. I want the easy escape. I want the miracle rescue.
Open my eyes.
Do the miracles come? They do. But, why pray for a miracle when He’s already made the way?
Sometimes the snarling savage beasts below just close their eyes and go to sleep.
Sometimes, we just need to get up and walk right out of the prison we’ve made for ourselves.
Open our eyes, Lord. We need to see.
You. We need to see You.
Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.
(from The Silver Chair ~ C.S. Lewis ~ English author/educator ~ 1898-1963)
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
(Isaiah 41:13 ~ NIV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.