It’s been almost two years since my wife and I brought home our Boxer/Ridgeback mix. He has been a delight for us in many ways. However, it did not take us long to discover that the shelter from whence he came did not disclose all that we should have known before getting this dog. In particular, Jack has separation anxiety that has resulted in chewed auto seatbelts, broken window screens and broken window frames and much more. His behavior is fine when he is in our presence. In fact, people who have seen him with us remark how well behaved he is, but when he is left alone he is an altogether different animal.
Early on during our adventure with this new dog, we took Jack to a trainer, looking for advice as to what we could do to manage his anxiety. The answers we received had to do with control and domination. Jack is trying to control and dominate his environment.When we are out of sight a large part of his environment (us) is out of his ability to control. Consequently, he gets anxious and does what he can to escape the situation. He wants to be with us so he seeks to break out of our house even though he has no idea where we are. In fact when successful in his escape attempts he has awaited our return on our front porch knowing nothing else to do. Anything that seems to be between him and escaping his situation is subject to destruction, hence torn shredded curtains, chewed leashes, and mangled dog crates.The problem, according to the trainer is for Jack has not learned that we are in control and that he does not have to be. The goal is for him to develop trust to the degree that even when we are out of his sight or not physically present he senses that we are in control. In other words, according to the trainer we need to train Jack to “keep it simple”, that is, he doesn't have to sweat things, because we have them covered. We are in control, so he doesn't have to be. He can simply relax and do what we tell him.
Now I could go on with a full description of leash and crate training and the recognition of doggy behavior that are signs of domination and the correction of those things, but this is not meant to be a blog about dog relationships but one about our relationship to God. There is a parallel thought here. As Jack tries in his way to control and dominate his environment, so we try to control and dominate our environment. Psalm 46:10 tells us to be still and know that God is God. He is in control; we are not. The truth of this verse is so central to the Christian walk. As written elsewhere in these blogs, the fall of man came when Adam and Eve, as described in Genesis 3:6, accepted the offer to be their own God. Each of us have been doing the same ever since. Domination and manipulation is the rule of the day and it extends to circumstances, other human beings and even God Himself. We want, we seek, ultimate control and are frustrated and often fall into despair when we don’t get it. The solution is to recognize that God is God and to accept His authority over all things, including ourselves. Only then can we find deliverance from our self destructive attempt to be our own God. Salvation and restoration comes when we submit to God by receiving His Son.
Recently when discussing this with a brother in Christ, my friend had some objection to the emphasis I was making linking salvation to receiving Jesus. His very valid point was that all is needed for salvation is belief in Jesus Christ (faith alone). However, it is very important for us to define what belief is according to biblical terms. Accordingly is it enough to believe He is God? No, The demons believe there is one God and they tremble (James 2:19). Saving faith not only recognizes the existence of God but His authority as well. It includes receiving God into our lives. To some, however, there seems to be a resistance to this receiving for salvation on the grounds of a misconceived notion of Lordship salvation. Receiving is falsely seen as a work while believing is simply saving faith.
So then what separates the belief of saving faith from the belief of demons? One is the acceptance of life changing truth while the other is mere acknowledgment of that truth. John 1:12 states it clearly when it says that when we receive Jesus we have the power or authority to become the sons of God even to them that believe in His name. Life changing belief and receiving are inseparable. One does not exist without the other. Receiving God's Son is indeed an action but one that comes directly out of our belief that He is God and has done what we cannot do in providing the means of salvation for us.
Consider this, if I believe in something but never act on it, have I really believed? If I believe a chair will hold me but never sit on it do I really believe in the safety of that chair? If I say I believe in Jesus, but never receive Him into my life, do I believe any more than the one who won’t trust the chair but continues to stand until he drops? Receiving is believing that God is God and I am not. Receiving is believing that Jesus is not only God but that He is my God.
When I received the Lord Jesus Christ into my life through belief in Him the door to the truth of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” was opened. I came in belief, but I now I grow as I learn to continually yield control. When I learn to be still, ceasing from my own efforts to control my circumstances and allow God to be God in my life, I receive all that comes in knowing, and having a relationship with, Him, This includes having peace and joy that I can never obtain on my own. The burden of trying to maintain control over an uncontrollable world is lifted when I trust in my loving Father Who is in control. Salvation came when I believed in the living Lord Jesus Christ by receiving Him. But growth continues as I yield to His reign in my life by ceasing my attempts to control my circumstances by my own might, recognizing He is in control even when I don’t perceive His presence.