Revelation and Joy in Unusual Circumstances
Have you ever been out jogging and reached the point at which your body felt like the weight of an 18-wheeler? You may have wondered whether you’d ever be able to move again. Now imagine seeing a large, unattended dog begin an ears-up, full-on run toward you at that very moment. It happened to me recently. And guess what? It increased my faith! And as something of a cherry on top, the memory has also blessed me with some deep, hearty belly laughs in the days since.
Here’s what happened: Well into my jog, I had just hit “the wall.” For real runners (which I am not), that wall is the point at which one cannot really run any farther — whatever may or may not begin a chase. Being comfortable with the neighborhood and with how uncommon it is to see any unattended or loose dogs there, I felt completely safe. Why not? The thought that I might be chased or experience any other sort of danger never entered my mind. Until.
Hearing some deep, loud barks, and I turned and spotted a large dog sprinting toward me. Now, when I say “large,” I mean a dog that on all fours(!) is almost taller than I am on my two feet. And when I say “sprinting,” what I mean is, full-on charging, ears and tail perked up, and ready to pounce. It felt like a movie scene — though at the time, there’s no way I could have known whether this was to be a comedy, or a horror film.
In what seemed like a split second, I had to decide what to do. Scream? This was a workday, and there was not a single person out and about at that moment in any of the yards of those nicely cared-for, single-family homes. Besides, that dog was now so near to me that I knew I was on my own. Run? Well … that was definitely out of the question. Passages of Scripture began racing through my mind, and I managed to recall something about my authority in Christ — over animals. There was no time to begin extrapolating about whether God has included domestic canines within our spiritual sphere of authority, or whether my own authority would even become fully manifest — humanity is still in a fallen state, after all, and creation merely waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
With no way to run and nowhere to hide, I knew I was going to have to take a stand.
It was me or the dog.
And some very righteous indignation began welling up inside me. I stopped and turned to face this swiftly oncoming giant — now less than 50 feet from me! — and I opened my mouth. I can’t remember if I knew what I was going to say at that point, because it was all happening so fast and my body ached all over. What came out, though, was a very bass voice that I’ve never heard before, proclaiming very, very loudly: “In the name of Jesus!!”
This wasn’t a shriek, a scream, or even a yell. It was as if my voice had been suddenly and miraculously deepened and amplified. The dog was still running toward me, though things seemed not to be moving quite as quickly now, and I followed up with: “I command you to stop right now, in Jesus’ name!” At this point, that dog was maybe three feet in front of me, and I said again: “Stop now!”
Guess what? The dog stopped. Its ears and tail dropped, and the animal was now the one appearing confused, wondering what to do. But rather than wait for it to figure things out, I pointed my finger, looked at the dog eye to eye, and commanded in that same deep voice: “You go now!” — while pointing to the rear yard of the house from which he’d come.
Frankly, I was so surprised at how quickly the dog had stopped and obeyed my command that I wanted to turn and see whether there were any behind and with me who may have been among that “fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” crowd described in 2 Kings 6:16. I chose not to turn and look, because I figured my heart and body had already reached their excitement limit for the hour, and anyway, I did still have a ways to walk to get home.
As I returned to my path, praising and thanking God for having saved me, I couldn’t help but ask why I had encountered the dog in the first place. Yes, it could have been mere chance, but I really don’t believe in “chance” — particularly because I try to be deliberate about where I go and how I get there, while being careful to listen for the possibility that the Holy Spirit may be instructing me to alter my course. Here’s what I believe God said, and it’s what I’d like for us to take away from what, thankfully, turned out to be a comedic scene: “How will you know that I am with you and that you have authority, if you’re never placed in a situation to actually use your authority?”
I don’t know where the voice that emanated from me came from, or where it has been all of my life (and I certainly would never have chosen autonomously to exercise my biblical authority over animals while out alone on a dead-end cul-de-sac), but I’m so grateful that I now know more about the power of who is in me than I did before.
In the weeks since that event, I’ve been gently reminded of the necessity of having our spiritual senses matured through constant use, in preparation for Jesus’ return, as Hebrews 5:11–14 exhorts. Thankfully, the weight of this truth has been tempered by that comedic personal training session. I hope I never forget it. And I pray that you’ll recall this scene whenever you’re in a battle and needing a good chuckle, and that you’ll find some joy in the midst of it all!
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