It happened again. Another dog encounter.
By now you are probably sick and tired of reading about neighborhood dogs chasing after Pippy and me on our walks. I can't blame you. I myself am just as sick and tired of the reoccurring chase scenes. I don't enjoy the thrill of a high speed chase on a movie screen nor do I enjoy it in my real life. I prefer the leisurely walks where barking dogs are safely locked behind fences. I like walks even better when the barking dogs are asleep in their homes, away from the window and out of sniffing reach of my little pup. But that is a bit picky. I'd settle for a tall fence and double locked gate. But even that is too much to ask in my neighborhood.
This morning's saga was another story of a big dog running after Pippy and I at warp speed, catching me completely off guard. At the same time that one dog was breaking free of his electric fence and charging at Pippy, another dog in the same area was barking viciously. The whole scene happened so fast that I thought the running dog was also the barking dog. I reached down to scoop Pippy up in an attempt to protect her from the vicious attacker. The running dog was already at my side as I tried to get Pippy. He was moving so quickly that he knocked me forward, causing me to lose my balance. My grip on Pippy was compromised and I ended up catching her leg in my arms, causing her to yelp while I went tumbling to the ground.
From start to finish the scene only lasted a few brief seconds but it felt agonizingly slow. My fall felt cartoonish. All the while the dog who had been running at us was not the dog who was barking. So my frantic attempt to save Pippy was all in vain. I ended up doing her more harm than good.
In that moment when I was falling forward my eyes were wide open, taking in the looming pavement that was before me. I was able to stretch out my hands just far enough in front of me to break my fall. My knees took the rest of the impact. Once I hit the ground I paused for a moment, taking in the reality of what was happening…again. I was once again flat on the ground, my nose just inches from the pavement. And Pippy was once again frozen stock still as a large dog sniffed her butt with such intensity I thought he might pick her up off the ground with his big nose. The scene was all too familiar. I couldn't believe it was repeating itself. I wondered to myself, is this Groundhog Day?
The time for contemplation didn't last long. I quickly rose to my feet, quickly gaining my stability and equilibrium. I scooped Pippy up, saving her from the sniffing intruder. The owner brought his dog back in his own yard as Pippy and I quickly continued down the road on our walk.
Today I realized something about all of these reoccurring frantic falls. Every time I've been knocked down I've been given the strength to jump right back up. No matter how hard the fall or how rocky the pavement, I've gotten back on my feet.
This certainly hasn't occurred on account on my own strength. This is not a secret: I am weak. All it takes is one look and anyone could confirm that fact. I could easily wear the label "Fragile. Handle with care." I look like I could be easily broken. I don't have built-in padding and cushioning on my little bones. I don't have muscles indicating power and might. My appearance sends quite a different message. "Downright wimpy" seems to be a more appropriate fit.
And yet God…
Isn't that the greatest start to any sentence?
And yet God's strength is bigger than my frailty. He is not limited by my low weight or lack of fat and muscle. When I am knocked down He is powerful and stable enough to get me back up on my feet. It is not by any force found within me. It is entirely through the rock solid foundation of God and His unshakable strength. God, dwelling in me, has the power to show His limitless, mighty power in my tiny being. As Isaiah 40:29 reassures, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."
My weakness is undeniable. It is visible. And the weakness doesn't stop at my appearance. I am not only physically weak but I am spiritually weak, too. I need God to lift me up in both my body and my soul. I need His power to lift me up off the pavement when I fall and out of the pit when I am dragged down in spirit. Thankfully, His power is great enough to do both. He can physically sustain me, enabling me to overcome the limits of my physical body. And He is able to life my spirit to new heights by His forgiveness and indwelling of His Holy Spirit that fills me with grace and love.
When I rely on God's strength I am able to overcome the weakness of my human frailty. On my own I am helpless, easily grounded by a simple trip and certainly broken by a face-plant on the pavement. But with God I am able to get back up again. By His power I am able to rise to my feet with energy and vitality that is from Him alone.
So although I may appear weak and fragile, don't be fooled… I have the strength of God in me.