People who own border collies say the way to have happy pets is to never allow them to see sheep. Once they see one, something instinctive clicks in their brains, and they begin herding everything in sight. Your kids, your other pets, and even you. I didn’t realize it, but apparently the same dynamic can occur with Yorkshire terriers too. These little dogs were originally bred to work in the textile mills of England at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Their small frame and diligent nature made them perfect for keeping the rodent population under control in the poor sanitary conditions of those early factories. Purebred yorkies still possess an innate ability to ferret out small vermin today, but as we’ve discovered with our dog, Jake, once that ‘search and destroy’ trait engages, it’s difficult to turn it off.
About a year ago, Jason stumbled upon a mouse in our garage with a unique disability. “Scooter” was soon adopted by our family and took up residence in an old fish tank in the boy’s bedroom. (Click here to read Scooter’s story) Our family fell in love with our little rodent friend, but he quickly became a source of desperation for Jake. This dog spent hours sitting below the makeshift home, straining to get close enough to see Scooter. When we would clean the tank, Jake would go crazy running around the room whining, barking, and tearing at the remnants of the newspaper liners and used wood chips. Scooter escaped one time, and in only a couple minutes, Jake located him and even briefly tasted our mouse before we managed to rescue him literally from the ‘jaws of death’. Though he survived his encounter with Jake, sadly, Scooter is now no longer with us. (Click here to find out what happened to him)
But Jake doesn’t know that our mouse is gone. Almost every day we can find him sniffing behind a door or scratching in the corner of a closet still seeking to find the critter that has been gone for many months. Whenever we start looking for anything like a lost shoe or the remote control to the TV, our activity reignites his quest, and Jake becomes obsessed once again with finding his prey. There are times that he’s so fixated that we have to lock him out of a room or barricade him away from a section of the house. This relentless search for the phantom mouse occupies Jake’s mind incessantly and often completely dominates his behavior.
Sometimes it’s kind of amusing to watch our little dog pace around the room, but seeing a child of God exhibit similar behavior is tragic! So… how much are you like Jake? Is regret your tormentor? Do you peer into the windows of your soul looking for a way to recapture a missed opportunity or eradicate a bad decision? Have you wandered the halls of your memories digging at pain that still haunts you? Could it be you’re still influenced by something that according to God no longer exists?
In Psalm 103, Scripture reminds us of how completely the Lord has forgiven and removed our sins from us. Verse 12 says “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” “To remove” simply means to “take away.” You’d think that when things are taken away, they’d no longer have influence on each other, but too often, they still do. Think about how the lingering memories of a divorce, an abusive family, a poor self-image or other experiences continue to taunt believers. The testimony of scripture is that at salvation, Christ gives us a brand new start. But despite what God’s Word clearly states, we continue to be obsessed with and tortured by ghosts from by-gone days.
Jake is just an animal who’s ruled by instinct, but we’re different. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the power –and are commanded– to let go of the past and leave it behind. (Phil. 3:13-14) That doesn’t mean that our memories are erased, but we can begin to live in such a way that our actions from long ago don’t define our thinking nor influence our behavior. I urge you to read the book of Ephesians and dwell on the transformation that’s taken place in you as a child of God and realize that today is the day to stop revisiting the past and begin to live in the truth of God. Jesus couldn’t have stated it more clearly. He said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) If you are a believer, Christ has given you freedom. Isn’t it time you embrace what is already yours?