Editor: Rob Freshour is the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of South Lyon, Michigan.
Several years ago, as a church planting missionary, I took on secular employment to supplement our family income. In addition to my work as a planter-pastor, I worked with the United States Postal Service, first as a clerk, then as a mail carrier. I learned a great deal about people and life as a postman.
As you are probably aware, every postal worker who walks a route tries to be on the alert for dogs in the neighborhood. Seems every puppy is born with an innate dislike for uniforms and the people who wear them. So, on my routes I used to carry a box of dog biscuits with the hope of making friends with any canine that crossed my path. Like the other mail carriers, I also carried pepper spray in case I met a pooch who did not want to be friends. One day, I discovered a new technology called the Invisible Fence®.
Invisible Fence® is an electronic pet containment system. Essentially, in order to keep their pet in the yard, pet owners install an underground wire around the perimeter of their home. The wire carries a radio signal, which emits a warning beep when the pet, sporting a lightweight receiver collar, gets too close to the boundary. If the pet ignores the warning signal and crosses beyond the boundary of the fence, the pet receives a mild electric shock.
One of my earliest encounters with the Invisible Fence® occurred while I delivered the mail to a family with a large Rottweiler who had not been impressed with my previous visits nor with my dog biscuits. One day I noticed little flags surrounding the yard’s border. I had no sooner noticed the flags than the guard dog noticed me. He came charging from the front porch barking threats that made clear his intentions whether or not you understood dog-talk. He was going to eat me alive! What happened next startled and amazed me. About four feet from the flags – and one flustered young pastor about to go postal with mace – the beast came to an abrupt halt and timidly backed away. You see, in his little canine mind he had been convinced that, although no chain link or bars were visible, he was in a cage.
That containment system is very much like a chain around an elephant’s leg. The chain attached to a stake in the ground is actually no match for the brawn of a mature elephant. However, what that elephant believes about the chain carries more weight than the truth.
We may think these poor pitiful animals are all too easily conned into compliance. Moreover, we may consider ourselves too intelligent for such deception. Tragically, however, I have come to believe we have been even more duped into sorry submission by our enemy.
As children, we happily understood God to be the Great Adventurer, to be everything the Bible and our Sunday School teachers portray Him to be. As we get older, our rubs against a twisted, jaded, fallen world cause us to become more … practical. God becomes more distant, less accessible, and the Bible seems less reliable to us. But the enemy has tricked us. As the serpent beguiled Eve, he challenges us to question what God really said and did and what His intentions truly were (Genesis 3:1-5).
This is why Jesus says we must become like little children if we will enter the kingdom of Heaven. We need to rediscover the wonder and awe of a God bigger than us, bigger than the universe. We must learn again to walk, relying on stronger hands than ours to support us. We must run to Christ like little children who throw themselves into their parent’s arms when Dad comes home from work and kneels to receive them at the front door. We need to remember that God is great and God is good.
Several years ago, I began to recite daily and teach our children a six-statement pledge of faith. My wife and I learned this from Beth Moore’s Bible study, Believing God. As a person, I want to see my walk with Christ Jesus become all He intends for it to be. As a partner, I want to help my wife be all she can be in Christ. As a parent, I am devoted to see them grow like Jesus: “… in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). And as a pastor, I yearn to see the flock I shepherd know Jesus more intimately and make Him known more intentionally. To that end, I invite you to learn these declarations with us:
God is Who He says He is.
God can do what He says He can do.
I am who God says I am.
I can do all things through Christ.
God’s Word is alive and active in me.
I’m believing God!