BY LEANN DILBECK –
I’ve generally always been an early riser, but over the last year, an insanely, frustratingly early riser… 4 a.m. early riser. My beloved Sophie girl, my fluffy, perky, adoringly loyal shih-tzu of almost 10 years was not… except for this one particular morning. I was cleaning out my refrigerator and she just looked at me with those big brown eyes and wagging tail like she, too, was ready to get her day started, so I let her out to go potty. I waited on the porch as I typically do and for some reason this morning, her routine was different. Typically, while in the dark, she quickly does her business and comes straight back in like a bolt of lightning but not this particular morning. She meandered searching for just the right spot. I heard my dryer buzz so I came right in to remove the clothing and came right back out but she was gone. I hollered and hollered but no Sophie girl. She had done this type thing when she was younger but not in several years, especially in the dark.
To make a long and heart breaking story shorter, Sophie never returned, and through neighbors, we learned there was a lynx or mountain lion in the area. Other dogs had been killed, too. It was devastating to our whole family. I couldn’t help but wonder what her last thoughts were. If it was that, did she go quickly, did she suffer, and on and on.
We live in the country with beautiful porches that offer beautiful views back and front. How many hours had we spent out there, never thinking about predators having eyes on us?
Don’t we live our lives that way, too? There is a very ferocious and hungry predator with eyes on us all the time, whom seeks to kill, steal, and destroy us as people in general and, I believe, specifically our families. He knows when and where to strike and with cunningness like a cat, he knows the strategic point in which to attack. Because of my and David’s restoration story, some people at their most vulnerable and weakest points have reached out to us, when they were watching their marriages begin to unravel, in what seems like insurmountable circumstances that move in like a lion in the night. It’s been a blessing to share what God was able to do in our family as encouragement – it is all to His glory. Sometimes it is new marriages and we all know there is a learning curve. For others, it’s that typical time that we read so much about, between seven and eleven years. And then there are the others that have decades of life’s struggles and victories, grown children with grandchildren. “I didn’t think this could happen to us… not after this long… I guess I thought we were safe at this point,” were one’s heartbreaking woman’s words. And, like a thief in the night, her marriage had forever been changed… but it doesn’t have to be over.
The encouragement is this, truth from Genesis 50:20, what the enemy meant for evil, God intends for good. Plain and simple truth. I could write pages on the blessings that have emerged from our hardship AND our restoration, not just in our lives but in the lives of our children. I believe with my whole heart that the blessings from our restoration will be realized for generations in our family. But you can never know these if you throw in the towel, believing the cunning lies of the enemy, “It’s too late,” “There’s too much water under the bridge,” “I’m not big enough to overcome this,” and the real biggie, “I deserve more than this… wouldn’t God want more for me than this?” Yes, He does, but hold on dear brother and sister, because He is sanctifying you, too, and the silver that comes out of this fire will glisten in all His majesty!
Marriages take work and anyone who tells you differently is lying. But marriages do make us better people and it is one of the most beautiful of all of God’s creations. And that is precisely the reason that the predator among us has his sights set on them. I figure my Sophie girl saw I wasn’t on the porch, took her eyes off me (her shepherd) and decided to have an ornery spell and wander… a good reminder of keeping our eyes on our Shepherd, who will always guard us from the predator among us.