Thursday, June 2, 2011

Knowing Your Own Strength

We have a big dog. Large by any standard--treat size, food type, kennel cost or flea prescription--Benny's weight hovers just below 100 pounds. Over 7 years we've come to know him affectionately by numerous names: Puppy Precious, Gentle Ben, Big Ben, Charlie Tiger Lion (Reid's redub of the MGM lion), Old Yeller, New Yeller, Benny Boy, and Aslan.

He stands guard like a sphinx at several sunny posts in our backyard. He is an early warning system for both the UPS truck and pedestrians slowing in front of our house. Often he howls without leaving his spot and even from an upside down prone posture in his corner of the living room. No need to get up, just sounding an alert. He is ever on guard whether at the back fence or the front door, waiting...watching. In addition to being a guard dog, he's a big hunk-a-munk who sleeps at the foot of Allie's bed and plops on my feet while I prep food at the kitchen counter. If you know him intimately as we do, he's a tender heart.

If you don't, he is easily mistaken for Cujo (especially from the other side of a closed door). His seriously startling bark puts the postwoman off several yards when she has to deliver an oversized package. The burliest contractors are caught unaware (until they toss his tennis ball).

The Lord speaks to me through Benney. Yesterday it happened again. Walking him around our loop, we passed a woman tangled up with two miniature dogs. They yipped and yapped at my Big Ben from all the way across the street. Ben is easily 5 times their size yet they feel the compunction to get his dander up. It didn't work.

I imagined the thought bubble over his head, "You gotta be kidding me...really?" Ben kept his stately pace, glanced over but did not dignify them with a response. He didn't have to. He knows the strength of his jaw alone could crush a pack of papillons. There was no need to bark.

I've been praying in new ways this year, casting out demons, taking authority over principalities and rulers of darkness, and reading Jesus' words literally when it comes to healing. In establishing this new habit, at first I think I yelled or at least raised my voice slightly thinking that must be necessary for these more powerful prayers to work. At times, I felt the need to call in others who knew the "right way" or had more authority or experience. Rather quickly, I've seen that it is not about the volume, amount of noise, or how loud our bark.

God's Word is more powerful than any two-edged sword. When we claim His promises, even silently, it suppresses the enemy spirits that yap in our minds taunting us with lies. Believing the power of His blood shed on the cross and knowing the authority we have in Jesus' name is the strength we need in spiritual warfare. When we do, His victory is ours (Romans 8).

The Lord has many names: Savior, Almighty, Commander of the Angel Armies, Provider, Brother, Yahweh, Healer, Protector. To know Him intimately is different than to hear His thunderous voice from afar or read about His wrath. Once you trust Him there is no fear--of Him or anything else.

Notably, Benney only barks when contained at home, not out on a leash. As long as we're connected, Benney and I carry on with our walk and those pesky little spirits flee like a terrier on a tether. Likewise, as long as I'm connected with Jesus (abiding as the Bible calls it; He as the vine, I the branches), I carry on with life dismissing as many demons as He lets me sense. For I know without a doubt, that my God is greater, awesome in power...Our God...Our God... Doesn't take long to remind me of a song:

(Apologies to my small dog owning friends. It's just a metaphor.)

"Here's what I'm saying: Ask and you'll get; Seek and you'll find; Knock and the door will open. Luke 11:8-10

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:5-7

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. Luke 10:18-20