When Someone Barks at You

My curiosity was piqued when I read the title of today’s devotional by Holley Gerth. I think you will enjoy this fresh take on trusting God when people aren’t nice.

What to do when someone barks at you

My husband, beagle-basset {aka “bagel”} Katie and I stroll along a neighbor street as autumn leaves turn colors and occasionally toss themselves toward us like confetti.

We round a corner and a trio of dogs sound the alarm. Two small. One large. They each offer their version of a bark–a deep, gruff warning; a high-pitched yap; and a trying-to-be-intimidating whine.

I’m startled for a moment and stop in my tracks while my dog keeps moving right along, tail wagging happily. I look in the direction of all the noise and realize why: those three dogs are firmly behind a fence.

Katie {affectionally nicknamed “the beast”} is wiser than me in this way. She pays no attention whatsoever to anything that can’t actually hurt her. Not a single “woof!” in response. Not a missed step. Not a concerned look.

She doesn’t engage in unnecessary vocal back-and-forths. She doesn’t run over to the fence just to show her strength and protect her image. She doesn’t wag her tail to convince them to change their minds and like her. She just carries on.

I, on the other hand, pay a disproportionate amount of attention to barking–even when the source has no real power over me. The enemy of my soul growls a discouraging lie and I consider giving up on my dream. A criticism comes in from the far corners of the internet and I think about throwing my computer out the window. An offhand remark from an acquaintance hits a tender spot and I bristle.

I’m in a season of reevaluating where and how I spent my energy and emotion. I find myself often asking this simple, hard question about each choice I make: Is this really worth it? And when it comes to responding to the barking that comes from behind fences the answer is clearly this: Nope, it’s not.

If you hear barking ask yourself this:

Can this actually hurt me or is this simply triggering my fear?

What will it cost me to engage in this?

What do I risk missing out on if I get sidetracked by this right now?

I keep going back to the same passage in Hebrews 12 a lot lately:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I always thought of those in the “great cloud of witnesses” as cheering us on. And, mostly, I hope they are. But I think the real point is this: there will be all kinds of spectators in the race of your life and your job is to simply persevere and keep moving forward with your eyes fixed on Jesus. No matter what anyone else says or does.

In other words, pay no attention to that barking from behind the fence.

It’s not worth it. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

You have places to go. You have dreams to pursue. You have a purpose to fulfill.

Your Master is beside you. And in the end, nothing else really matters.

(c) 2014 Holley Gerth  Used with permission http://holleygerth.com/barks/

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