by:  Cris Corzine-McCloskey

We have enrolled our schnauzer, Snickers, in obedience school. We’ve wanted to do this for a while, but hated to spend the money. That changed when he began showing signs of potential aggression. We knew we couldn’t risk him biting anyone, so we hired a professional trainer for private lessons. Imagine our surprise when, after a quick evaluation, the trainer informed us we don’t have an aggressive dog, we have an anxious dog!

I felt like a bad Dog Mom, so I rushed to my own defense, telling the trainer how I doted on Snickers and protected him from all harm. The trainer did not look too surprised and diagnosed Snickers with a classic case of over-coddling. In my misguided love, I had been over-protective and wrecked his doggy confidence. This has got me thinking about God’s love and the things I’ve been through in my life.

At this point, it’s easy to see that the scariest, most pain-filled times were when I have grown the most. I once had a relationship I thought I couldn’t live without. I cried an ocean of tears when he broke my heart, and even though I wasn’t a Christian, I begged God to restore the romance. I thank Jesus He didn’t answer that prayer! That was the man who had introduced me to meth. I can’t imagine where my life would be if I’d stayed with him.

The biggest thing I wanted God to protect me from was going to prison. Before sentencing, I begged, pleaded, and bargained with God, telling Him all the mighty things I would do for Him if He gave me mercy. I now see His mercy was all through that situation, including my being sentenced to prison.

See, He knew my heart, and He knew I only wanted enough of Him to get my own way. I didn’t yet love Him, but He loved me. And in His love, He held me by the hand and walked me through the thing I was so afraid of. On this side, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m grateful for the experience. Not because I believe prison rehabilitation works, but because that is where I learned you will never know God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. And while I can’t say it made me completely fearless, I am a lot more apt to pick up a slingshot and go after some giants.

Since then, there have been several other instances where I wanted Him to rescue me from the things that frighten me. Sometimes He leads me away from the battle, and sometimes He leads me right to it. But I have gotten to the point where I know it’s always for my best, even when I’m not too fond of it.

Jeremiah 10:23 says, “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own paths.” You see, when we give our lives to God, we have given up the right to complain about the journey. When we face something scary, it is because we are being trained and stretched. He’s building our confidence. He’s not interested in having children who are frightened of their own shadow. We can’t defeat the enemy like that! He’s interested in having children who look and act just like Jesus, and Jesus was fearless.

I wish I had remembered all of this before I over-babied my dog because this has been a costly mistake. Not only am I out some hard-earned cash, but I also have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to re-educate both the dog and me. I have to let him face his fears. Luckily, he’s a fast learner. His name will no longer be The Cowardly Schnauzer, he will become Snickers the Stout Heart!



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