DayBreaks for 6/21/19 – The Certain Reality of Love

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DayBreaks for 06/21/09: The Certain Reality of Love

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

They say that only death and taxes are certain.  Well, there is some truth to that, but it’s not the whole truth.  There are other things that are certain, too, whether everyone wants to admit them or not: God’s Word is sure and certain, Judgment Day is real and will certainly happen, God’s promises are certain.  I’m sure that there are other things that are certain (they all have to do with God in some way or form – except for taxes, that is!)  What has struck me recently (probably given the episode with Casper that I described in yesterday’s DayBreaks) is the certainty that if you love something, love will break your heart.

As I held Casper and watched him go limp in my arms and his eyes dilate, my heart was breaking.  Why?  This was only a dog, after all.  But I love this scamp of a dog with all my heart.  And it hurt to think I was going to hold him as he died and that he would be gone.  I pleaded with him to come back, to not go away.  Perhaps the reason he came back wasn’t because of my CPR, but because God heard my desperate plea not to take Casper away while he’s still such a young dog.

If you love another human, you better believe there will be hurt and pain and heartbreak.  Vast loads of it.  Cascading mountains of it.  Not because we set out to hurt those we love – we just do it anyway through our thoughtlessness, our selfishness, our busted human nature.  On the day I promised Laurel that I would love, honor and cherish her until death do us part, do you think for one moment that I ever intended to cause her so much pain in the years we’ve been married?  Never!  But the truth remains that I’ve caused her pain, my children pain, my friends pain, my co-workers pain…and my God pain.

I have sometimes wondered why God created love knowing it would be so painful.  Eventually I came to the point of view that God didn’t actually create love because love existed before He created anything.  It existed in His very own nature, and in the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  So God didn’t have to create love – it always has been because He always has been.  Perhaps that is also true of faith and hope, given the fact that Paul said that long after tongues and other things have passed away, three things will remain: faith, hope and love – with love being the greatest.  All of those things, I believe, are as eternal as God Himself because they find their Source in Him.  He is faithful, He hopes for His creation (including us), and He loves all He has made. 

Nonetheless, as I contemplated the certainty of a broken heart because of love, I was drawn once more to the cross and the broken heart of God over our waywardness.  If we feel pain so much over the possible loss of a dog, how much more does God feel pain as a result of things we, the objects of His love, do?  Perhaps His pain over our sin is as infinite as His love.

Prayer: Lord, I am so sorry for all the pain I have caused You – the One who loves me more than anyone or anything else could possibly love me.  Forgive me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 9/19/18 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me (#???)

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DayBreaks for 9/19/18: Lessons My Dog Taught Me            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

Lesson: It’s important to try to communicate our love as often as possible.

Oftentimes throughout the day (and night!) Casper (my white boxer) comes to wherever I am at and either stands or sits, looking at me with those large, soulful eyes that are characteristic of the breed.  He is totally irresistible when he does that!!!!!  I can’t help myself…I simply MUST respond to him.  I take his head in my hands, stroke his neck, pat the top of his head, rub his back, scratch his chest…and start talking.

What do I say?  Well, since I can’t speak dog, and he can’t speak English, I just speak to him in my own language…I tell him over and over again what a good dog he is, that he’s a good boy, and more often than not, I find myself telling him, “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  I say that over and over and over.  Do you know why?  Because I want to be sure that he KNOWS he is loved and that I’m crazy about him.  Does he understand me?  His soulful eyes leave me wondering if he grasps any of what I’m saying.  I honestly don’t know.  I hope he understands, but regardless, he sure seems to like it!

As I thought about this, I thought about God’s dilemma in trying to tell us how much He loves us.  The analogy isn’t a perfect one, for surely God can communicate in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German or any other language He chooses…but since He doesn’t audibly speak to most of us, He usually communicates His love to us in other ways. 

God’s native language is the language of heaven, while ours is one of the languages of earth.  So God, for thousands of years, attempted to communicate His love to mankind through blessing, through beauty, through a thousand-and-one tender and loving gestures…but we didn’t get it. 

At least, not many got it…until Jesus came and then God could literally take our head in his hands, look us in the eye, and say, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should have everlasting life.”  Even in Jesus, God’s gestures were the greatest proof of His love – the cross being pre-eminent among them. 

And, I wonder: how many times a day is God trying to tell me in one way or another “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  And I wonder, in the same fashion that I wonder if my dog understands my love for him, if I even begin to grasp the ways and times and depth of God’s love and how He tries to communicate it to me.

This much I do know: I will keep telling Casper how much I love him every day.  God keeps telling me, too, if I only have ears to hear it.  And I need to tell those around me how much I love them – and make sure they understand that God loves them, too!

PRAYER: I thank You, God, for my dog and for love.  I thank You that You never tired of trying to show and tell us how very much we are loved.  Give us ears to hear it and hearts to believe it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37

DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37           

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Lesson: let the Master scratch your itch.

You’ve heard of obsessive/compulsive disorder, I’m sure.  We call it OCD – the type of behavior that just can’t “let go” of something.  Well, I’m not a dog psychologist, but I think Casper may have OCD.

There are two things he does that make me think this.  First, any time he sees a reflection (from the face of a watch, or off a computer screen or any shiny object), laser pointer or even a flashlight (lit or not!), he is obsessed with it!  He “locks on” to it with every ounce of energy and attention in his taut body and he won’t stop chasing it until it goes away fully.  Even then he looks for it for several more minutes.  It’s bizarre.

But there’s another thing that he’s obsessive about: he LOVES to have his belly scratched.  It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night or something in-between, he wants you to scratch his belly!  He lets you know about it, too, because he’ll come over to where you are sitting or laying or standing, and he’ll raise up one of his paws and “paw” your arm until you get the idea.  So, you scratch his belly until you think your arm will fall off, your fingers have gone into permanent cramp-mode, and you stop.  But what does he think of this?  He doesn’t care if your arm does fall off – he’ll start pawing you again until you start rubbing his tummy again!  He has no shame.

I couldn’t help but think that God wants us to desire His contact as badly as Casper wants mine.  And I should want that touch from Him as desperately as Casper wants my touch.  How good and pleasant it is to lie down in green pastures, to drink the cool waters, to enjoy the table full of blessings that the Lord’s presence provides!  Can there be anything better than that?

Sometimes we just need to slow down and let God scratch our belly so we are filled with delight.  And as Scripture says, His arm never loses strength or grows weary! 

PRAYER:  Thank you, Father, for the ways you bless and comfort us each day.  May we be obsessed with Your Presence and may we take time to revel in Your touch.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36

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DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2006:

Lesson: never pretend to be something you’re not.

Casper is my white boxer.  He’s eagerly awaiting his second birthday (in December), hoping that he’ll get a new chew toy of some kind.  He has rather figured out that I have a soft spot the size of Alaska in my heart for him, so when he gives me hints about what he wants for birthdays or Christmas, he’s got a good idea that he’ll get them!

He is still full of puppy.  A rather large and rambunctious puppy at that.  There are times when we (especially my wife!) wonder if he’ll ever grow up.

There are times when he tries to act like a docile, innocent creature, but his eyes and tail always wind up giving him away.  He may be able to act like there’s no mischief in his body for a while, but his eyes give him away quickly, the tail starts to move from side to side, and the real Casper comes out to play once again.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to “sit” or lay down and control his energy.  It looks like a Herculean effort!

God looks at us and sees us as we are, not as we are pretending to be before Him.  Just as Casper knows there are times when I wish he’d just lay down and be quiet, I know there are times God wants me to just follow Him and behave myself.  So, I’ll sometimes pretend to be paying attention to Him (because I know He wants me to!), when deep inside I’m really struggling to restrain myself.  I sometimes wonder who it is that I’m really trying to fool: God, others, or myself.  I wind up, ultimately, not fooling any of them, for my old sin nature sneaks back out and rather than resting in God, I’m jumping and leaping all over creation, getting in trouble again.

When Casper breaks out of his innocent-little-puppy mode, it can be disastrous both for him and anyone in close proximity.  The same is true of us as humans.  We are dangerous and the havoc we wreak can be very hurtful, even deadly.  While the stingray that took the life of Steve Irwin looked docile, it wasn’t harmless, and it cost Irwin his life. 

May we all beware of things that are not what they seem, and of hypocrisy in our own lives.

PRAYER:  Jesus, you know better than anyone the danger of people putting on a show and pretending to be something that they aren’t.  The religious leaders of your day were experts at it, but sadly, so are many of us.  Help us to set aside our attempts to appear holy and righteous so that we might truly BE holy and righteous.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/20/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #39

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Casper, at about 1

DayBreaks for 4/20/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #39

From the DayBreaks archive, 4/20/2006:

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

We have been absolutely deluged with rain this year.  Cloverdale averages about 37 inches of rain a year.  So far, we’ve had over 60 inches of rain…and more is in the forecast.  I don’t think that I’ve ever lived anywhere during my life where there’s been so much precipitation in a single year.  Everyone in town is rather depressed by the gray skies and “liquid sunshine”, and on those rare days recently when the sun has actually managed to get out of bed in the morning and shine a bit, everyone’s spirits shoot right up.

Even our dogs have had their downs.  Our oldest dog, Rainy, is a mostly yellow lab and as a water dog, you’d think she’d not really care about the rainfall, and to some extent, she doesn’t.  But I think that even she’s getting tired of it.  Casper, just a bit over a year old, doesn’t have enough experience to know whether this has been normal or not, but he LOVES the sunshine.  In fact, as I write, the clouds have temporarily broken and it’s streaming through the window and he’s laying on the floor, snoring, in the sunshine. 

The last time we had sunshine, Casper stood (on the bed!) staring out the window at the sun, the leaves, the trees and grass.  There were reflections and leaves that looked like different colors than he’s been seeing, and he clearly wasn’t used to it.  He was really stirred up!  But Rainy, being older and more mature, came into the same room, hopped up on the bed, sighed heavily and lay down to sleep. 

Casper was a perfect example of someone who didn’t know how to let his anxiety go.  I don’t know, but when we are all stressed out, if we look as funny to God as Casper did to us, God must spend a lot of time laughing about our franticness.  We spend far too much of our lives staring and chasing reflections, worrying about what’s happening and how it’s going to turn out.  (I know that there are momentous things in life that are very legitimate challenges to us and which will naturally upset us, but Paul was pretty clear about it: Don’t be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING…present your requests to God.

It’s hard to do when it affects our loved ones, but it is worth the effort to trust God.  We need to remember that He sees things much differently than we do, but He IS trustworthy…in EVERYTHING. 

PRAYER:  Lord, the events of this life often seem so frightening.  We, like Martha, are worried about many things.  We carry burdens that we weren’t intended to carry, worrying over things that we cannot control, afraid to trust you fully for fear that you may not do what we want.  Help us to learn that what we want is often not what is truly best.  Help us to trust fully in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 01/02/2015 – The Lord of Rejects

DayBreaks for 01/02/15 – The Lord of the Rejects

Casper, when he was just a pup

Casper, when he was just a pup

 From the DayBreaks archive, January 2005:

I recently wrote that we’re getting a new boxer puppy.  This will be the 4th boxer we’ve had.  All have been purebred boxers, so in that regard, they’re all similar.  But there was something special about the last one we had before this (Rameses).  Rameses was a purebred boxer, but he was a pound puppy.  My dear friend, Scott, who worked at the animal shelter in Tracy, CA where we lived at the time, brought Rameses to our home one night after our previous boxer had died.  Rameses had been found wandering the streets.  No one knows where he came from, nor where the little fella thought he was going.  So they picked him up and took him to the animal shelter.  Now I know that in various locations it works differently, but in Tracy, CA (at least at that time), if you wound up in the pound, your life expectancy was not very long because they didn’t have the funds to keep animals for very long, so unless they were adopted out fairly soon, well, you get the idea.

Casper is another purebred boxer, in fact, he’s the son of a couple of champions.  But he’s special, too.  He’s a white boxer.  And the American Kennel Club has a thing about white boxers.  They’re not “desirable”.  They can’t be shown in competitions (not that I’d want to do that anyway), and they’re not supposed to be bred for fear that there’ll become more white animals in the blood line and pollute the breed.  The AKC, back when they could get away with it, said that any breeder who had a white boxer puppy born in a litter was to “destroy” it.  That’s now changed, but the other stigmas of being a white boxer remain.  So, Casper, you see, is a reject, too.  He’s good for nothing except to be loved as a pet.

As I think about my Lord, it dawns on me that he is the Lord of the rejects.  Like Rameses, we are all wandering aimlessly on the streets, headed for a destination that wasn’t good – either starve on the streets or be put to death at the shelter.  Like Casper, we are all rejects, too – there are those flaws in us all that make us less than desirable: selfishness, greed, pride, envy, jealousy, hatred, prejudice, laziness, mean spiritedness – the list could go on for a long time.  All those are things that would keep us out of any championship ring.

But then along comes the Lord.  He doesn’t care if we’ve wandered the streets, just as I didn’t care if Rameses was a pound puppy.  And he showed that he wasn’t given to agreeing with the rigid standards that make certain people acceptable and others less than acceptable.  He loved those who were “unacceptable” by associating with the tax collectors, drunkards, prostitutes, non-religious types of folks all.  I could care less that Casper is forever ruled out of the “show ring”.  He has a place in my heart already, as Rameses certainly did.  I have a place in Jesus’ heart, and he rescued me from the ugly demise that was to be my certain end and with my warts and all, took me home with Him to be His treasured possession and companion.

And now, He wants me to emulate him in my love for others – even if they’re all white, black, yellow, red or any other color or shape or size.  And He wants me to invite them to come home – to His house, where they will meet the One who is the Lord of Rejects – the One who is eager to claim us as His.

Psalm 94:14 (NLT) – “The Lord will not reject his people; he will not abandon his own special possession.”

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for loving rejects like me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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