Some time back, Cathy and I were serving in a local church that set aside one night a week to visit people in their homes. We would take the addresses of recent visitors at our church and knock on their doors hoping for spiritual conversations. At a certain time on those evenings we would gather back at a church building to report on our visits. Needless to say, I was intrigued when one of our visiting teams returned to tell how they were prohibited from getting to the door of a house by a huge, angry dog standing just inside the front gate. My intrigue turned into something deeper than curiosity when a different team tried to visit that house the next week and met the same large, vicious canine.
Side note: I grew up with dogs...big dogs. In fact, most of the people who lived in the farming area where I was raised had big dogs. I am used to dogs barking and acting mean, only to have them start wagging their tail when they no longer feel threatened. My background made me consider the challenge of this particular feral beast as something of a personal problem that I needed to conquer. It felt as if I was being told, "I double-dog dare you," if you get my drift.
The next week on visitation night, I intentionally took the address of the "dog house." I couldn't wait to come back in a couple hours and report to the other teams how Cathy and I were able to make friends with the wicked animal, meet its owners and have a great talk with them about God.
We parked our car at the curb next to the aforementioned house, said a quick prayer and stepped into the early evening air. We were barely a step or two onto the sidewalk when a huge and vicious dog came running to the fence to see what we were about. His barks carried an ominous note, but I had heard many other dogs do the same and I wasn't really intimidated. We got to the front gate and the the animal increased his furious warnings. I stopped, spoke gently to him and slowly reached my hand over the fence for him to sniff. It took a moment for him to stop barking long enough and warily take in the scent of the back of my hand. Bit by bit, he saw that I wasn't threatening and he relaxed noticibly. Sensing that we were now on safe ground, I gingerly reached over to unlatch the front gate and the dog went into orbit. The pitch of his voice and the fire in his eyes told me that he would have none of it. I tried unsuccessfully to settle him again and let him sniff me; we were through. Cathy and I went back to the church and reported that this dog was the best gatekeeper we had ever seen.
Some dogs just can't be messed with. You can't trick them or coax them or lure them away from their vicious nature. This becomes ever so personal when you realize that some of those vicious beasts aren't just animals that run around on four legs; some take up residence inside human hearts. Did you ever feel like something dark and grisly was happening inside you and you couldn't seem to escape it? You may have tried every conceivable way of coping, but you still find yourself chained by a force you can't seem to break.
Jesus Christ spent a huge chunk of his ministry breaking the chains that bound the people around him. It's a ministry that still exists today among his followers. Come this weekend to Stone Ridge Church and find out how the "dogs" that keep hounding you can be neutralized so you can be set free. Can't be there. Catch the podcast here.