My 14 year-old Golden Retriever is on borrowed time. Having
already surpassed the normal lifespan of her breed by at least two years,
she continues to do the things that she has always loved, including
romping in the snow, rolling in the grass, and begging to go for a walk.
There is only one major problem in her life: Stairs! With age, her
arthritis has become so significant that even the simplest tasks of
getting up from the floor or walking across the linoleum are challenges
for her. By far the biggest challenge, however, is the stairs. More
times than I can count she's tried to climb the stairs, only to
slide--or fall!--back to the bottom. It has reached the point that she
is actually afraid of stairs. Unfortunately for her, we live in a
As her arthritis has worsened, we have set her up on the entry level of
the home so that she doesn't have to climb a single stair in the house
unless she chooses to. Her only problem, then, is the stairs she must
climb in order to enter the house, and due to her her newly-developed
stair-phobia, it is now necessary for one of us to hold her collar as
she faces them.
It occurred to me today that this "collar-holding" serves two purposes:
It provides her with some stability and assurance that she won't
slide--or fall!--down the stairs, yes; but it also gives her that little
"nudge" of encouragement she needs to even attempt the climb.
In life, there are many "stairs" we must face in order to move forward.
Life's "stairs" generally look a bit more like trials and troubles than
they do ascending and descending structures; but they still provide us
with obstacles that inhibit our forward movement.
There are times in our lives that we embrace those "stairs" with joy.
Sometimes, however, the "arthritis" of life--the stresses, the
emotional and physical pain, the broken relationships, etc.--cripple us
to the point that we can't seem to face that extra responsibility, that
new diagnosis, that sudden death in the family, or whatever it may be.
Much like my dog, we find ourselves cowering at the mere thought of what
we must face.
Unfortunately for our dog, we can't remove the stairs from our house.
In the same way, we cannot remove the trials and temptations from our lives. Just
like my dog must make herself climb the stairs in order to get inside to
her food, her comfort and her family, we also must pass through the
troubled times. Fortunately for us, there is Someone who willingly left
the comforts of Heaven to make a way: "Therefore, brothers and
sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the
blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the
curtain, that is, his body..." (Heb. 10:19-20 NIV), and that
Someone has promised to be: "...our refuge and strength, an
ever-present help in trouble." (Ps. 46:1 NIV). He has promised:
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not
leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (Deut. 31:8
NIV see also
Matt. 28:20, etc.). Thus, it is Jesus Himself who promises to "hold
our collar" so to speak, ensuring that we don't slip and fall
us to make it through.
Interestingly, sometimes He is there to give us the stability and
strength we need; but other times we require the occasional "nudge" to
move forward. That nudge may not feel good, for it may be that God is
encouraging us to continue in a direction we do not wish to go; however,
that nudge will always be accompanied by the strength and stability He
In the face of whatever new challenge has been put in your path, think
about my arthritic dog and the hand on the collar that stabilizes and
encourages her to go forward. Remember that it is the mighty hand of
Jesus Christ that is always there for you. Let Him be your strength and
stability, and when those gentle "nudges" come along, encouraging you to
move onward even when you don't think you can, respond to them by doing just that: moving
onward in His
power and might. You'll be amazed at how much easier it becomes to
be victorious through the trials!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two,
Author -- "Aboard
God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer",
Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter,
Scriptural Nuggets, a
website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
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