(an excerpt from “Life’s Journey”)

Many years ago I had a dog that wandered beyond the perimeter of the backyard into a field overgrown with weeds. As I watched her make her way back into the yard, I noticed she was limping, favoring her back paw. Understanding she probably picked up a rock or thorn in her travels, I sympathetically called her to me so I could remedy the irritation. But my normally obedient and responsive dog began to slowly and purposefully circle beyond my reach. As I continued to call her to me and attempted to move closer, she deliberately circled further out, avoiding all contact. I was frustrated by her response because clearly my desire was to relieve her of pain – she knew I loved her, she knew I wanted to help, so why then did she continue to avoid me?

Finally, knowing what was best for her, I sternly commanded her to lie down. Hesitantly she obeyed, but as I made my way toward her I sensed her desperate desire to ignore the command and again move out of reach. As I began to lay her on her side I was met with resistance and defensiveness, and as I began to examine her paw I received a response I had never experienced before – my dog growled at me. Though I had always been a loving and caring master to my friend, in that moment her pain was so great she could not allow herself to be vulnerable to me.  She was resigned to experiencing ongoing, continual pain rather than risk the anticipated pain of removing the irritant. To her benefit, the love I felt for my friend would not allow me to leave her in pain. As I soothed her fears, assuring her of my concern and promising only my best, she became vulnerable, opening herself to my healing hands. After I removed the deeply imbedded thorn the relief and liberation was apparent as her walk was renewed and her enthusiasm returned.

Just as my canine companion was required to be vulnerable in order to exchange her hardship for my help, on life’s journey I have been required to be vulnerable to a loving and caring God in order to experience forward motion. Certainly there were times I circled far beyond His reach, deliberately avoiding exposure of my wounds and the touch of His healing hand. I am aware of many occasions when I growled at God’s desire to address the source of my pain. Simply put, I was afraid. But when the thought of living with ongoing, continual pain scared me even more, when the prospect of limping through life finally became too much to bear, when I accepted the possibility that He did not want me to remain in pain, I was able to assume the risk of vulnerability in exchange for a renewed and fulfilling journey.

If you are walking in pain, I promise that God wants to bring healing and relief to your burden. You may be afraid that it will hurt too much to let Him touch the tender spots, but once His hands have finished their work, I know you will experience all the hope a loving God intends. Perhaps now is the time to ask for the touch of His healing hands.