I learn a whole lot watching my dog. Tank is 130 pounds of sheer joy and passion for living. He’s in the moment and fully present … until there is a ball. A ball turns him into a crazed lunatic fixated on stalking the ball, capturing the ball, and keeping the ball. Nothing else in the world matters once the ball appears.
Our home for the week is a pool and open air cabana in the mountains of Southern California. There’s no TV or other source of entertainment here. Not a single soul or even house as far as the eye can see. The only sounds are the birds and the coyotes. We swim. We float. We read. We talk. We cook. We eat. Then we swim again.
Tank loves to swim. His giant webbed feet were created for the water. He literally swims for pleasure at a leisurely pace with a legit smile on his face that exclaims “this is the life” … until there is a ball. Once a ball is introduced, the pleasure is gone. The leisurely swim comes to a screeching halt, and the fixation begins. He goes from the happy swimming pup, to the miserable dog standing on scorching hot clay tile burning his feet while he protects the ball.
And while I watch my dog, knowing what he doesn’t know, I begin to get a glimpse of what God must see when he watches me. He knows what causes me to become a crazed lunatic. He knows what I so easily get fixated on. And he knows sometimes withholding things from me is for my ultimate good.
Psalm 84:11 “The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”
If God does not withhold good things from us, then why haven’t we all won the lottery? Why aren’t we all on a tropical vacation right now? Why don’t we have the mansion on the hill or that shiny brand new car? Why didn’t you get that job promotion? All these things seem really good to me and they also seem to be withheld sometimes.
Have you ever bargained with God? I admit I have. God, if you would give me this, I would do really good things with it. I make my case for why I should have the “ball”, convinced it is such a good thing and since God withholds no good things, I’m surely going to get it … then I don’t.
Why is that?
Maybe because God knows what we seem to forget. He knows we can get so focused on making a living that we forget to make a life. He knows we get what we want, then all our time is spent trying to get even more. In our quest of having and doing, going and getting, guess what happens … we forget to actually live. We forget where we are and what we already have.
My dog Tank is here with the opportunity to do what he loves most, swim. But if the squeaky ball is in sight, swimming will cease and the crazed obsession begins. Daddy is his master. Daddy knows better than Tank. The master will allow him to enjoy today by withholding the ball, make him forget about the ball, and enjoy his life again.
If something is being withheld from you, could it be because your master knows best? Could it be because you would lose sight of living if you had it? Would it become all about the house, all about the car, all about the career, all about the next thing? Likely, yes.
It happens to all of us.
How many opportunities to play with your kids have you missed because you were cleaning the house? Well, the bigger the house, the more to clean … what more would you be missing? Maybe you don’t have the mansion on the hill because it would cause you to miss the most precious season of your life mama.
You know what growing careers require? They require our energy, our focus, and our time. If we can’t keep that in balance, we become successful, important women with broken, hurting families and competing demands that leave us burned out and overwhelmed.
New cars have new car payments. Car payments require more income. More income means more work. Pretty soon all you are doing is working to make the minimum payments for all you own, but never really enjoying any of it.
THIS IS NOT GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU.
He gave you this one life to live. To enjoy. To experience. To share.
So if he has to take the ball away from you so you can enjoy this, then darn it the ball will no longer be in sight.
The Lord withholds no good things from those who do what is right, but if we can’t do what is right then we don’t get it. He will absolutely withhold things from us when he knows we will miss the point of life when we have it.
When we can learn to do what is right, then he can open the storehouse of heaven and poor out good things on us. But we’re still in the process of learning to do what is right. We’re still learning how to have good things without those good things having us.
I love my dog. I would give him a hundred squeaky balls today and delight in his pleasure. But I know his pleasure would be short lived and his obsession would begin.
Our heavenly father delights in our pleasure. He knows the number of hairs on our head, cares about each one, and certainly knows the things that cause us to get caught up in nonsense. He withholds not to punish us, but to protect us.
Let us learn to be fully satisfied where we are with what we have. If we’re fixated on the ball, let the ball be taken away so we don’t miss the opportunity to live.
During this pandemic, we’ve had a few balls taken away, haven’t we? Priorities are becoming more clear. Wow, we had gotten really fixated on stupid stuff, huh? Can God give that back to you and trust you to keep living well? Can he trust you to do what is right?
Lord, help us do what is right with what we have and trust when we’re ready for more, you will provide it.