Trying to Turn Things into What They’re Not

When I was a child, I tried to turn a Chihuahua into Lassie.

I wanted a dog like Lassie, that heroic TV collie who had long orangish/brown fur, bits of black around her perky ears, and a huge white mane that fluffed softly from her chest and was always clean and brushed. Every week I watched her rescue little Timmy from danger.

I thought if I had a dog like Lassie, she could rescue me if a river swept me away, attack bad people that tried to hurt me, and run for help if I were trapped in a collapsed mine. Then she would lick my face while sweetly whining, just as Lassie licked Timmy’s face at the end of every show.

Trying to turn things into what they're not

My sister Karen, brother Tony, and I playing in the sprinklers with Moosie, the tiny blob in front of us

But I didn’t have a Lassie. I had Moose: an irritable, golden blonde Chihuahua whose girth nearly matched her height. The top of her head sported a large, bald soft spot I wasn’t supposed to touch. She scurried about on spindly legs while her toenails went clickety-clickety-clickety. When I disturbed her frequent naps, she growled and bit my fingers with needle-like teeth.

Nonetheless, I was sure Moosie could be like Lassie with a little nudging.

So one day when a group of kids big enough to go to school were hanging out on the sidewalk in front of our small stucco house, I decided to bravely walk outside with Moosie by my side. I called her. She ignored me. I picked up all eight pounds of her and carried her to the front door. “Come on, Moosie, we’re going outside,” I coaxed. I set her down and she put her wiggling, wet nose on the crack where the door opened. I turned the doorknob and pulled on the door. She jumped out the door and I followed her. But as soon as she saw the school kids, she ducked her nose onto the ground, whipped her skinny tail under so far it nearly touched her pointed chin, twisted the front half of her body around like a hairpin, and dove back into the house.

The big kids stared.

A Lassie she would never be.

Trying to turn things into something they're not

Moosie standing on the armrest of a chair staring at my grandmother’s parakeet

Although I wanted a dog to protect and befriend me, what I didn’t know is I had someone infinitely more reliable, infinitely mightier, and infinitely more concerned for me than Lassie ever could be for Timmy. Lassie, after all, was mortal, besides being fictitious. Her successes depended on a storywriter’s will to keep the dangers facing Timmy within Lassie’s ability to overcome. There was no Lassie that could protect me from the dangers of the real world in which I lived.

It wasn’t a Lassie I needed, then as a child or later as an adult. I needed, and have, the Good Shepherd. This Shepherd knows my heart and thoughts, as well as the heart and thoughts of all around me. There is no story line bigger than his abilities to overcome. Not even death.

And yet … we sometimes try to mold people and situations and things into being that which only the Good Shepherd can be for us. When we try to make creation do what only the Creator can do, we set ourselves up for disappointment and unhappiness.

  • We may try to mold our spouse into being everything we emotionally need, rather than seeking all we need from God
  • We may turn our environment into never-ending entertainment, rather than taking our nagging and tumultuous thoughts to God for examination
  • We may feign illnesses so family members will prove they’ll always care for us, rather than trusting God for our future
  • We may form our deeds into exceptional works to prove we’re good people, rather than accepting the forgiveness God offers through Christ Jesus
  • We may habitually dull pain and sorrow with alcohol or drugs, rather than seeking the lasting comfort that only God can give
  • We may chase positions, possessions, and people to gain worth, rather than pursuing the eternal glory God offers
  • We may shape our work to gain approval from people, rather than being satisfied that the only approval which counts is God’s
  • We may manipulate others into doing what we want, rather than acting in honest ways and trusting God to provide for us
  • We may try to control others, rather than committing ourselves to prayer and trusting God with others’ lives

Have you been looking to mold someone or something into that which only God can be, just as I tried to mold Moosie into Lassie? It won’t succeed. Only the Good Shepherd can guide and care for you as you need.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

Psalm 23:1-3a

 

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