Thanks to Melissa for permitting me to step in. This is my first blog post.
Yesterday on Instagram I saw a post that read, “The dog barks but the caravan moves on.” Although I’d never heard that, turns out it’s an old saying from the Middle East. Dogs barked as the caravan slowly plodded to its destination. But their barking wasn’t enough to stop it. I smiled because my first thought when I read it was that I was the dog barking incessantly as the world passed by. And I wasn’t one of those lovable goofball dogs slobbering for attention. I was a loud junkyard bite-your-head-off dog.
I barked at politicians, my job, the economy, family situations, foreign affairs, the weather, and anything else that annoyed me. And there was a lot. No matter how loud I barked, though, life kept going, the world kept spinning and my ranting made little difference in the scheme of things. I might as well have been an annoying Chihuahua yipping as a freight train rumbled by.
I thought about the saying for a few more minutes.
In my second take I’m in the caravan, life’s caravan, following the camel in front of me, trudging along toward my goal. Not really thinking much about where I was going, living day to day, doing my job, supporting my family. In this scenario the dogs bark at me, packs of them, snarling and growling, nipping at my heels.
I’m awake at midnight alone in the world. Somewhere in a neighbor’s yard a dog barks. It’s the dog of anxiety and it gets louder by the minute. Now it’s in my driveway. What if my kids are into drugs? What if I screw up that presentation at work? What was that strange noise the car was making today? Now the dog is pawing my window. Pretty soon he’s is at my bedside drooling on the sheets.
Suddenly it’s four AM and the anxiety mutt is howling. I know I’ll never get back to sleep which means I’ll be useless at work. Then another pooch joins the first, the dog of fear. And this one’s a big one with snarling teeth. What if the lab results are positive? What if I get fired? What if I can’t make the mortgage payment? Fear’s hot breath blasts my face.
In the Bible the phrase ‘Do not be afraid’ is mentioned 365 times. One example I like is Jeremiah 1:8 “Do not be afraid of them. For I am with you to deliver you.” In another, Jesus tells the apostles, “Let not your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” I try to keep that in mind. Jesus goes before us always. Jesus goes before us always. Jesus goes…
But then the hound from hell pins me to the bed, the dog of depression. What’s the use? I’ll never succeed. My marriage is in shambles. That promotion’s a long shot. I’ll never beat this addiction. And on and on. Fill in the blanks.
I pondered the saying again.
Then a third way of looking at it occurred to me.
In my third scenario I’m still in the caravan of life and the dogs are still barking. But their noise is in the distance over a faraway sand dune. Some trail behind us, but they can’t catch up. Because this caravan is the caravan of God’s powerful, unstoppable and desperate love for us, plowing through the deep scorching sand of our lives, the insults, the disappointments, the physical pain.
This group of everyday people like you and me are on our way to a wonderful place. The ear-splitting howling dogs can’t be heard above God’s peaceful whispers of mercy and forgiveness.
“Do not be afraid.”
Fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness and all other attack dogs cower in the shadow of this caravan.
The harmless dogs bark but the caravan, God’s caravan moves on.
Melissa’s big on homework. This week’s easy practice:
Picture yourself in the third scenario.