It was a beautiful Friday morning, the perfect day for an invigorating run. My four-legged running partner and I started out slow, warming up, as we began to sync our stride to our usual even tandem. Our gait seemed to drag, my standard poodle, Sorrel, wasn’t keeping up with me as she usually did, so I stopped to find out why. Closely inspecting all her paws, I concluded her right front paw was sore. On the return home, she continued to favor the foot, not putting her full weight on it. Days later, I observed her listless, with no appetite, and saw something wedged in between her paw pads. I arranged an appointment with a veterinarian. After a quick examination, the doctor discovered the little annoyance. Sorrel had picked up an irritating foxtail.
Spiritually, there are many parallels to removing “little annoyances.” We can learn how to discover and determine areas God wants us to submit to Him. Our emotions are like a warning light, encouraging us to pay attention to something that needs attending. We may become aware when we are experiencing increased anxiety, fear, or frustration over something or someone. This may happen when we have prayed for a situation or a resolution to which God has delayed the answer. Or if God offered an answer, if different than we thought it would be or what we wanted, we may become disillusioned, even disappointed. Little things can become a big deal. Instead of limping along with a wounded heart, we can be healed and whole. We can learn lessons from the little things, as we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and apply truth from God’s Word. We can learn how to pay attention as we choose to trust God for His timing.
Did you know that 80 percent of our problems stem from how we feel about ourselves? We can learn to invite God into our “waiting room.” It helps to do these three things:
- Stop. It was time once again, for me to stop and pay attention to my emotions. It was essential for me to spend time alone with God and explain my feelings to him, not just verbally, but by writing them down in my journal. By doing this, I let God know I was choosing to submit to his plan. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).
- Confess. I told God about my fear, procrastination, and pride. I explained to him I didn’t think I was worthy of the blessings he wanted to give to me. I compared myself to other women and those old doubts of insecurity crept in again, overshadowing everything God had shown me in the past. I had to come against and reject condemning, shaming, and blaming thoughts; by reviewing his promises, I could dig down deep into what is true. The condemning thoughts were not from him. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
- Believe. By faith, I reaffirmed my understanding that God was working behind the scenes and that no matter how long the wait or what I sensed was ahead, God’s sovereignty was at work. I renewed my faith in God’s providence and kept studying God’s word, which brought peace and hope. “You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you” (Isaiah 48:6). God asked me to wait on him and his timing. [i]
In the past, I endured the chore of removing foxtails from the fur of many of our pets, yet I didn’t realize the danger of foxtails goes far beyond simple irritation. Because these tough seeds don’t break down inside the body, an embedded foxtail can lead to serious infection for an animal. It can even lead to death if left untreated. I didn’t know that foxtails travel. Moving relentlessly forward, never back, they can migrate from inside a dog’s nose to its brain. They can dig through skin or be inhaled into — and then perforate — a lung.[ii] Thankfully, the point of entry for Sorrel’s foxtail folly was her paw, but she still endured a minor surgery, full round of antibiotics, and pain killers.
We can choose to invite God into our times of waiting, worrying, and wanting. Little things can become a big deal. Left unattended, little things – irritating addictions, annoying habits, or habitual sins can become big problems. Instead of limping along with a wounded heart, discouraged dreams, or a sick soul, we can be healed and whole, and offer the same hope to others who ask. Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” When we make the effort to examine and defeat the enemy’s lies, we can move forward and reclaim our peace and joy. Time in God’s Word, replacing the lies with truth, renewing our minds, and fellowship with believers in community will usher us into a deeper walk of faith. Let’s get started.
[i] Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner, It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth, Redemption Press, Enumclaw, WA, 2018, pg. 127