“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ― Winston S. Churchill
I read this in my devotion today. I love Churchill quotes, and this one really spoke to me. I have been told that I have A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder for the acronym haters). I’ve never really been diagnosed with this by a doctor, nor, I suppose have I stopped long enough to really consider it… but I suppose I resemble that. I confess, at times, I am easily distracted.
Do you get distracted? And what distracts you? I don’t really get distracted at all when I preach, but I do when I pray. It is so frustrating… I am praying, getting serious with God, when all of a sudden… < ping >… I’m off somewhere else… And then… < ping >… somewhere else again. Ugh! I can be in the middle of doing one thing, when < shazzam > something else occurs to me; or someone comes and asks me to do something; and then I get a phone call… And it is like all of a sudden I have several things going at once, and none really getting done. I believe in the hereafter, but what was I here after???
What about people? Do people distract you? Maybe you’ve chosen God; you’re learning, growing, and making choices to please the God you’re coming to know, when all of a sudden… someone makes a rude comment… they mock your faith, make fun of your choices, or maybe even attack you or say something that offends you… and it cuts deep. They might even be thinking that criticism is a spiritual gift. Here you were, loving and walking with Jesus, when this “dog” starts barking. (Note: I’m using Churchill’s metaphor, and not name calling… Just thought I’d clarify that.) And what do we all too often do? We stop walking and talking with Jesus to confront the dog. If they’re mean and ugly enough, and hurt us, we might want to pick up a rock and get back at them. But what does that do to our walk? Where were you going? Who were you going with? Is the “dog” really worth being distracted over? By the way, just a thought… but have you ever tried matching wits with a barking dog? How’d that work for you? Now apply that one to the metaphor.
And, have you noticed that some people never seem to grow up in their faith? Some come to church for a while, and then… < poof > they’re gone. Maybe they bounce around to other churches in search of one where dogs don’t bark; or maybe they just quit church and God altogether. Sad, I’ve yet to find a place in my Christian walk where dogs don’t bark. And I can just picture it: Scene: Heaven; God: Tell me my son; why did you quit worshipping me and serving in my church? Why did you turn your back on my word and my people? Why didn’t you keep your eyes and heart on me? Brian: Well God, it was those dogs that started barking at me. Really??
God said some really crazy stuff, like “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44); “Bless those who curse and persecute you” (Luke 6:28 & Rom. 12:14). He tells us to forgive others, as we have been forgiven by God (Eph. 4:32); and more. We need to keep something in mind always. When God called, and you chose to follow Christ, you were saved from eternal judgment and lost to the enemy of our souls. But he will do everything he can to distract you, marginalize you, and keep you from being all you can be for God and His Kingdom. One of his best weapons is other people. Even crazier and more tragic, some of those are even believers who have lost their own focus.
You cannot walk this Christian path without encountering barking dogs. They will annoy you, attack you, and try to distract you from your walk with Christ. You will be tempted to fight them off… to throw stones at them. Don’t. It really isn’t worth it. If you’re not walking with Christ, you’re standing still, or worse. And besides… trowing stones is tiresome. I leave you with this word from God:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2 NIV84)