2017-06-27 - Barking Limits
Ephesians 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under Heaven. (NASB)
Because our dogs Shiloh (adopted in 2014) is a member of the family, she accompanies us on all overnight trips. Just as we did before moving into our new home, we check animal ordinances wherever we are going to take her (as we did with Pierre), so we can find a place she can enjoy - but also so we can stay within the law. Though she doesn't bark too often, it is part of her nature to bark at things related to her time living on the streets. So we did check the barking limit in our new neighborhood, and it is 30 minutes. After that, someone may call the police - though I must say that we live in a very tolerant neighborhood; we all are patient with each other's occasional pool parties, garage bands and barking.
Some neighborhoods have less patience, and have a 10-minute rule. I thought about it one night, how it might be frustrating for a dog who felt an urge to bark, if they had to stop after 10 minutes. That led me to the thought that in relation to our spiritual lives, a "barking limit" might actually be a good idea. Perhaps we should limit ourselves to "barking" about certain things! Make no mistake about it; sometimes God puts something on our hearts, that He intends us to share. He may use us to get out a message that few are seeing, and I myself have been told by people that when I share info with them, it has enlightened them to facts of which they weren't aware because the media they normally watch didn't tell the entire story on something - and that is an injustice to some of the people involved. God wants us to pursue truth and justice, and sometimes that means writing a letter to the Editor, sharing a post on Facebook or telling a Sunday School class about an experience. But at times, we can take a genuine concern about justice and truth, and we can turn it into an obsession, by losing sleep about what is going to happen, or by driving our family and friends crazy with our concern. And no, I haven't done that to Richard, haha. In fact, our concerns are usually so aligned that sometimes he feels even more strongly than I do about the passions God has put on our hearts - mostly for justice an full truth. He recently cancelled a 25-year daily subscription to the New York Times for that very reason.
There is a lot of wearying talk today about "just being positive," and up to a point that is okay. But if we only think and talk about pleasant or "positive" things, we aren't doing God's work, because Jesus was engaged with what some people would call the "negative," and He expects us to follow in His footsteps. If we are to make a difference in this world, we must get personally involved. I know that in my own life, at times God has called me to go into some dark places in the justice system but if I only thought about or worked in "positive" places, I wouldn't have been able to help the victims of child molestation, incest, rape, etc. There is a lot of half-truth and non-truth swirling around now, and I think part of it is because people don't want to know or believe the truth. It is easier not to face it. And for some of us, sometimes God puts on our hearts the truth, as well as ways to share it. It is important that we follow through and that we carefully and prayerfully deal with dark and hateful things when we have to.
But sometimes we need to limit how much time and thought that even good concerns can consume. Otherwise they can affect us adversely by affecting our physical condition. Even righteous anger (about the mistreatment of the innocent, about slander, about half-truths, lack of accountability or whatever) can raise our blood pressure and take away our attention from other important issues. Even a compassionate concern about injustice can keep us awake. Now at times, this is good. I once heard a famous Christian ministry leader say that the mistreatment of the disabled could keep him awake at night, and God used that to spur on his ministry. And as Kathy Troccoli sang in my life's theme song, "Go Light Your World." © But we do need to be careful to not let our concerns become obsessions; we should strive to stay balanced.