Sprinting through my dark neighborhood, following my black dog through shadowed yards, I prayed.
God, please let him get trapped by a fence so I can catch him.
Shortly after, I lost sight of my dog.
Twenty minutes passed. No sign of my four-legged runaway.
Then, my husband came across him inside a fenced yard, waiting patiently at the gate. All my husband had to do was open the gate, collect the dog, and bring him home. Talk about a literal answer to prayer.
In awe, we rejoiced.
But I was also curious, as if the blessing was a household appliance I could dismantle to reveal it’s inner workings. How did the dog end up inside a fence? I walked by the house where the dog was trapped and peered into the back.
This property had an eight- to twelve-inch gap in the back corner of their fence. That gap must’ve allowed the dog in, but was small enough that he couldn’t find his way back out.
It seems that often, behind an answer to prayer, there’s a figurative a gap in the fence. A way for the blessing to slip in and stand waiting for me.
Recently, when handed another blessing, I started speculating to a friend, writer Jerusha Agen of the Fear Warrior Blog and the Sisters Redeemed series. (You’ve seen her influence on the blog recently because she’s the one who suggested chasing snowballs sounded like a blog post material.) So in a message to Jerusha, I wondered about how the latest blessing could’ve happened.
Jerusha’s answer? God did it.
Yes, but how?
When Jerusha suggested I write a blog post involving accepting God’s blessings, I paused. Maybe it would make a good blog post.
But writing forces me to look at my motives a little more deeply.
I was asking what seemed like an innocent enough question. How did God build this blessing? In some ways, it’s good to observe what goes right, to learn from successes as well as failures, to constantly improve.
But when we go off in search of a gap in the fence, how often do we do so because we want to recreate the effect at will? Do we think deep down that if we’re amed with the knowledge of the blessing’s inner workings, we’ll be a little less dependent on God?
As if such a thing were possible.
Yet if Isee how something good happened, I know the temptation to rely on that knowledge a little more and on God a little less.
If I sit down and dismantle a blessing, I’m left with a pile of parts I can’t make run. (In fact, with my mechanical know-how, I’d be lucky to get the case off.) Take the example I started with. Dismantled, pieces are strewn left and right. A runaway dog. A gap in a fence. Two exhausted dog owners. A dark night. A lost cause.
I try to fit the parts back together, but the dog won’t slip into the yard through the gap in the fence without someone leading him. My husband won’t go down the street and turn his head without someone prompting him. The blessing’s gears just won’t turn without God. Without Jesus, there’s no power source.
Not only that, but I turn around to see that there are even more parts to this blessing. Who but God caused the owner of that property to call their fence complete, though it was eight inches short of enclosing the yard?
God is the only one big enough to create all the parts, let alone fit them together and enable them to hum into motion. Or, as Psalm 127:1 puts it, If the Lord does not build a house, then those who build it work in vain. If the Lord does not guard a city, then the watchman stands guard in vain. (NET)
There’s no footnote on that verse that says “unless the builders and watchmen are really experienced–then they’ll be okay.” Of course not! It’s all up to God.
Yes, I plan to learn and grow from experiences and blessings. (On a side note, I’m learning from failures, too—we’ve taken measures to keep the dog in our own yard so there will be no more midnight adventures. If you remember reading about him running loose once before, that’s because I did write about the same situation from a different angle once before. Thankfully, he hasn’t gotten out since!)
We get to learn what we can about recovering figurative lost dogs. God wants us to learn and gain His kind of wisdom. His kind of wisdom teaches us that no matter how many gaps in the fence we find, no matter how many dogs we catch, we will never cobble together all the parts we need to recreate success apart from Him.
The power to fuel success is God’s alone. He’s the miracle worker. The One who hears and answers our prayers. The One who can turn the hearts of kings and the paths of dogs. The One who speaks and it is so. The One from whom all blessings flow.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
What blessings are you thanking God for right now?
Great post, Emily. This really challenged me. I love the line, "Yet if I see how something good happened, I know the temptation to rely on that knowledge a little more and on God a little less." That is so true of me, but I've never really stopped to think about it before. Only the unexplained blessings are the ones that awe me, those that I can't determine a cause for that I can recreate. But so often, I fall into that way of thinking that, if I can see a reason for the blessing, that means I or someone else did it, not God. But that is so, laughably, untrue! I love how you pointed out that NONE of even the blessings that seem explainable to me could possibly come about without God behind them, orchestrating all the machinery and pieces to come together. I'm honored to get a mention in your post! But you and God made something out of a little suggestion, for sure. 🙂
I'm so glad to be walking this writing and faith life with you, Jerusha! You've inspired me more than you know. 🙂