The story is told of a small boy explaining to his mother, “It is like there are two dogs inside me. One is pulling me to do bad things and the other pulls me to do good.” “Which one wins, dear?” “The one I feed most.”
This is very much in line with what Paul describes as our struggle with sin. We may want to do good, but sin is right at hand! It is a never-ending struggle in this current expression of life. We are faced with many decisions each day and our inner dogs do battle!
The boy’s story does reveal hope, to us, in these situations, though. The bigger, better fed dog pulls harder and so wins the day. I would suggest, as a twist on this thought, that a different pair of dogs enter this critical tug of war for each changing situation. I may have a Malamute sized puller in one situation. It is muscular and well fed and temptation is easily overcome. The tug might be so short that I am not even conscious of a struggle. In other arenas I have a Chihuahua sized champion on the side of good and I quickly am overcome. This dog needs feeding if I am to change the outcome.
To do this I first must admit that my Chihuahua sized strength is powerless to stand against a given temptation. I require empowerment from a source outside myself. Put simply, I need God. As I pray and read my ‘inner dog’ supernaturally grows. As I live in grateful reliance on Him my Chihuahua grows. I never get beyond the need of God without him my malnourished Malamute becomes no more advantageous than my Chihuahua was. As the old song goes “I need Thee every hour.”
A prescription for victory over temptation is daily: daily prayer (morning and evening), reading and meditation on the Word, and thankfully serving Him throughout the day. This feeds us and sets us up for the myriad of ‘tug of wars’ that day. We can not survive on ‘yesterday’s’ manna but must seek fresh food each day.
Adding to this thought (and bringing further hope), is the idea of default systems. My computer has certain default systems including type fonts. If I want to type in a different font I must consciously change it, but over time I have established my preferred font and other preferences as defaults. I no longer have to even think about these issues. They are programmed in.
As I develop a default system of devotion and grateful living I can overcome much temptation without stress or strain. In the areas where I still too easily fall, such as pride, I need to consciously go to God. I do so in the hope that by habitually doing this I will develop humility as my default system. After which I will certainly have to engage temptation on yet another front. There is no cessation in the conflict with: sin, the flesh, and the Devil.
So today I encourage myself with thoughts of Dogs and Defaults.
I had a couple of really good meetings, this week, with a gentleman who may be the answer to our prayers in search of a “Night-time Pastor” for our Threshold House ministry. We continue to seek God’s will in this.
I also met with a local Youth Pastor this week as we planned a community barbecue at Threshold House July 10th. We are inviting our Street Hope friends, making a point of personally inviting people from a low income housing area near Threshold House, and church members. We pray for good weather, as there is no possibility for a rain date (the young people are a part of a regional gathering “Under Current”) and meaningful conversations. If you could add this to your prayers I would be grateful.