Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Two Maggies

My An Arkie's Faith column from the July 11, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

The two dogs ran through the door and out into the backyard. As I stood on the deck watching the dogs, one of them ran around the side of the house where I couldn’t see her. “Maggie,” I yelled, “get back over here.” The dog that was still in the yard looked at me with big sad eyes, wondering what she had done wrong. The problem was that both dogs were named Maggie.

Three months ago, Maggie the Golden Retriever came into our lives. A friend was looking for a good home for a pet she could no longer keep. She suggested that we keep Maggie for a week while she was out of town and see if we liked her. We fell in love with Maggie on the very first day. She has become a big part of our lives.

This week we have been dog sitting our friend's Border Collie named, you guessed it, Maggie. The two Maggies have become inseparable. They love to play with the dog toys, but whatever toy one of the Maggies has, the other one wants. They like to play tug of war. Wherever one of the Maggies is, you will find the other one.

Having two dogs with the same name is a problem. The dogs are confused when their name is called. We are confused also. We have finally resorted to referring to them as Maggie One and Maggie Two, so we know which dog we are talking about.

Just like the two Maggies, we are often confused by the voices we hear calling our name. There are many voices in the world. The world is a noisy place. If you are somewhere and everybody is talking at the same time, it is pandemonium, and you can’t understand what is being said. In Romans 12:2 (GNT) the Bible says, “do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”

To let God transform us, we need to be able to discern His voice from the many voices that are shouting for our attention each day. Jesus talked about his followers hearing his voice. He said that “the sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out. When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away.” John 10:2-5 (CEV)

Jesus calls us each by name. He knows even more than our name. He knows our thoughts, feelings, longings, fears, and needs. Jesus is tenderly calling you today. The old hymn, “Softly and Tenderly,” is a favorite of mine. “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling for you and for me. See on the portals He's waiting and watching. Watching for you and for me. Come home, come home. Ye who are weary come home. Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling, O sinner come home.”

Whether or not you can hear Jesus calling you often depends on your ears. My ten-year-old granddaughter has been staying with us. She loves to listen to books on tape. When I want her to listen to me, I must tap her on the shoulder and get her to take the headphones off, so I can talk to her. Too often when Jesus is calling us, we can’t hear Him because of all the things that have our attention besides Him. Jesus says, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Mark 4:9 (NKJV)

Psalm 23 is one of the best-known passages in the Bible because it comforts us with the image of a good shepherd caring for His helpless sheep. Imagine the sheep grazing contentedly while the shepherd walks among them.  At just the right time, he stands, calls them to follow him and gently calls out the names of his sheep. Every one of them has a name, and he knows them all. Each sheep hears that familiar voice and his name and follows the steps of the shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalms 23:1-3 (NKJV) “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3 (NKJV)

What an amazing thought! Jesus knows me by my name. To Him, I'm not just a number; I belong to Him, and He knows my name. When I feel unloved or persecuted and afraid, I feel peace knowing that Jesus knows me, that he knows my name, and that He is calling me. I remember the verse that says, “He called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (WE)

Gentle Reader, I hope that you hear Jesus calling your name and that you can recognize His voice, in the middle of this noisy world. God says, “I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 (CSB) He wants us all to be able to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 (NIV)

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