Dope-dee-doe

Our Pondering Prophet mascot became the wondering prophet, as he did not return home from an evening walk Wednesday night. The next morning my heart fell to the pit of my stomach. I opened the garage door and for the first time in 13 years, no Moses. He ALWAYS returns home and knew something was keeping him.

Of course the worst ran through my mind. He was wounded somewhere and needed me. Was he dead? What happened to him? I exhausted every avenue from 5:45am till 9:30am. In a moment of hope lost, I collapsed in tears. My phone rang resulting in my neighbor’s voice, “They found your dog, here’s the address, go.” I honestly don’t recall how I got in the car and on the road. The address was one house over and two houses down. I could see the roof from our deck and vice versa.

Moses had fallen ill and my good neighbor and colleague, Sara Wells (Good Samaritan Ministries), found him in her front yard. Her granddaughters cared for him during the night. By morning he was very well and howling in the corning of their penned in yard that faced our home. Sara gave me all the details. I expressed mounds of gratitude. She and her girls had the same canine appreciation that I had. Caring for Moses was no burden. Beyond Christian duty, they enjoyed nursing him back to health. I discovered they did exactly what I would have done for him.

In reflection of that event, I recalled how I pleaded with God to help me find him. I asked that Moses be well. And I specifically asked that if he was dead, that he did not suffer. It never occurred to me to consider the Christian community or the community of other dog lovers throughout all the places Moses could have roamed.

Reunited

Desperation has the power to push us into a corner. We feel that it’s all up to us, or us and God. We forget the resources that abound through community. Fear of judgment has kept me from sharing my troubles with my family. So often I have longed for a sympathetic word about how things are now, instead of what I “should” have done to prevent the tragedy at hand or what I need to do now to fix it. A little understanding goes far.

Perhaps that is why so many are so hesitant to offer an apology when they know their folly. A moment of vulnerability to a group is too risky. Their pride keeps them safe. Yet what they lose in the process is a valuable lesson. What if the group/family/church offered grace? Could it be?

The New Testament advises us on our behavior when we know we have been mistaken. It encourages us to live in peace (Hebrews 12:14a), Jesus preaches about peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), and James writes as if confession is essential for healing (James 5:16). All sources point to this risky act: throw yourself on their mercy. (And by “throw” I mean abandon all self righteousness and justification.) The Christian community, especially, has been called out to give grace. Being a Christian, we trust in that.

Ponder with me for a moment:  What if they offer grace and understanding? The relationship lives. Humility is yours but reflect on those lessons. You have taught them as much as they have taught you. Together, you are getting better. What if they offer judgment? Then it is time to re-evaluate the relationship.

This is a risky venture. It calls for spiritual maturity rooted in the belief that God will work with all the ups and downs to mold us into Christ likeness. Take heart, humbled ones! God goes before us; God goes with us, and (thank God!) God goes behind us, cleaning up our mess.—one pondering prophet to another—

POSTSCRIPT:
Dear Methodist Pastors, Do you feel that your district meetings, conference and district con’t ed events, lectionary groups (so on and so forth) are gatherings that encourage sharing of places professionally and even personally that you feel failure (or make apologies)? How vulnerable can you be? Are we creating communities of trust? Look what Springcreek church did!  What if we lived like that among each other?  Just some thoughts…..

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