Tag Archives: Ivan the Terrible

Knowing Where Belly Rubs Come From

Story of the Day for Wed. September 26, 2012

Knowing Where Belly Rubs Come From

A woman who had lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood weeping behind Jesus’ feet. Her tears wet Jesus’ feet, and she wiped them with her hair. Then she kissed his feet and put the perfume on them.

Luke 7:37-38

We used to have two puppies, Garibaldi and Ivan the Terrible. After they were housebroken, one of them started to backslide and returned to a life of sin.

One day, we found the evidence of wrongdoing in my son’s bedroom. The situation needed to be addressed, but unless you catch them in the act, how do you know which puppy to admonish?

I stood outside Randy’s bedroom and called the dogs. Garibaldi bounded toward me in a wiggling mass of puppy joy. Ivan the Terrible hung his head, and, taking the coward’s way out, started slinking off to a remote corner of the house.

I caught Ivan by the scruff and escorted him to the scene of the crime. We gazed at the evidence before us, and then Ivan and I had a private moment together.

It’s possible, and maybe sometimes desirable, to use fear to correct the behavior of dogs. And people. But fear and the threat of punishment has little value if your primary desire is a relationship. You can’t frighten a puppy into wagging its tail and licking your face.

Have you noticed how those with sinful reputations flocked to Jesus? You would expect that, in the presence of a holy man, they would avoid him and slink into the dark shadows.

Instead, they’re drawn to him like a magnet. A woman with a sinful past comes up behind Jesus as he reclines at a meal. Women in Jesus’ day always wore their hair up in public (except on their wedding day). If a woman let her hair down in public, it meant she was a whore. This woman wets Jesus’ feet with her hot tears, and, with her hair let down, wipes his feet.

We get it.

This woman cried and kissed his feet and poured out her expensive perfume – not because she was hoping, pleading, for mercy – but because she had found mercy.

Jesus attracted people with broken lives, because they knew he loved them a lot. They knew he would forgive them, and give them a new start.

If the world isn’t breaking down church doors to get in, it’s not because they’ve lost interest in being loved by God. It’s because they fear we’re going to sniff out their sin, grab them by the scruff, and rub their noses in it. Trust me on this: they’ve been burned already.

Thirteen years later, I carried Ivan the Terrible up on a hillside and buried him. He was an awesome dog – always glad to see me. He knew where belly rubs came from.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

It’ll Be Enough

Story of the Day for Thursday October 27, 2011

It’ll Be Enough

                    Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother said, “Here’s a boy with five loaves of barley bread and two little fish. But how far will they go among so many people?”  

                                                                                     John 6:8-9

Sometimes at night, when the wolves were howling on Still Peak, our old dog, Ivan the Terrible, would join in. Some deep, primal memory told him he was part of the pack. Pointing his nose to the night sky, he would reply with a lonesome howl.

But Ivan never sounded like a wolf. He sounded like a cow trying to yodel.

 

Ivan the Terrible died this last summer, but I always envied him when he would sing. I didn’t envy him because he was good – he was so bad as to make you wince – but he howled nonetheless. I’m afraid to sing in public. What if I’m off-key? Ivan, on the other hand, never worried what he sounded like – he just gave you what he had.

 

“Use what talents you possess,“ Henry Van Dyke said, “the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

And, yeah, I know William Purkey’s words can be misconstrued, but I like them anyway: “Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

 

But, hey, if we don’t attempt something, at least we won’t fail, right? Who’s going to laugh at our clumsiness if we don’t join in the dance?

It turns out our common notions about this are completely backward. The well-known psychologist, Karen Horney, discovered that, if you do not attempt to do something, you will usually have the self-impression you have failed.  Horney claims that, by simply attempting to do something, we will almost always conclude that you have succeeded.

It’s not about performance; it’s about trying.

 

All the same, we often define ourselves by our limitations. How many times have you found yourself lamenting, “I wish there was more I could do?”

But the Lord only expects you to use the gifts he’s given you, to offer what you have – and not worry about what you don’t have.

 

Once, a young boy had little to offer Jesus. Just five loaves of barley bread and a couple of small fish. Not much, but he gave what he had.

Yet, in the hands of Jesus, it was plenty.

 

Don’t focus on the talents you don’t have, the money you don’t have, the opportunities you don’t have. The only thing that matters to Jesus is using what you’ve got.

It’ll be enough.

                                                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)