Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
One my previous occupations was managing an animal shelter. I was also an Animal Cop. One time I went to a home, I was amused by what I saw. There was no violation of the law. The cats, each weighing twelve to fifteen pounds, were tethered to the front porch by long strings of yarn. The cats were perfectly content. They were capable of breaking lose but chose to stay put. They had food, water, and a bed; one of their owners would soon take them back inside where they would be loved and cared for. As much as they were able, they understood that being tethered, being attached to their owners, was what was best for them. At other times, I would find a dog chained outside that would break away, run off, and get injured or killed.
In our lives, sometimes God tethers us to him. Not unlike these animals, we can choose that tether or not. If we rebel and break loose, we often suffer the consequences. In my life God has blessed me in many ways. But often he blesses me in ways I would never have chosen. In fact, he blesses me in ways I would normally avoid. He knows if left untethered and left to my own devices, I make bad decisions that harm me and others.
Recently my doctors discovered I have recurrent prostate cancer. I began getting radiation treatments – 37 of them. The prostate was removed 4 years ago, but some of the cancer cells stayed behind and began growing on my bladder. I have bladder problems, discomfort, and pain. But, as in my 3 other primary cancers, I have learned to accept this appointment of disease from my Lord. I value it and pray that it not be wasted. What these health problems have shown me is that none of my achievements or successes in life really matter. What people think of me does not matter. My identity is in none of these things. All of these things have no eternal value. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
When we are forced to lean on Christ, we must repent and depend on him. My struggles, whether they be an illness or a failure, force me to lean on God. During these stressful times, I hold my family close. I have their support and love. I become more dependent, empathetic, and understanding of my co-workers and friends. God takes my type A personality and humbles me by my weakness and fragility. I develop relationships that perhaps I would not have noticed before, and I relate and pray with people who have illnesses common with mine.
Yet, I have learned to hold my Lord even closer. For he does his most amazing work when I rely on him and him alone.
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