Last Friday night Macy, our Chocolate Labrador Retriever, had puppies. This was a brand new experience for her and for our family. We really had no clue what we were doing. Neither did she. She went into labor around 10:30pm at night and I think all of us were on edge. After reading that they stay in the beginning stage of labor for six to eighteen hours, we decided to go to bed. Around midnight, my husband went to check on her.
When he found her she had already had one puppy. Have you ever seen a dog look bewildered? The wet, slimy little guy was lying on the floor all alone crying and Macy was huddled in a corner, staring at him and looking completely bewildered. But, after birthing the 11th puppy, she was getting the hang of things.
Sadly, we lost the smallest puppy early in the morning. She was only half the size of the others. We did all we could, but she was just too weak. And so we were left with ten squirming, furry bodies to care for for the next eight weeks.
This began the “count”. We all find ourselves counting. Are all ten accounted for? Are all ten breathing? Are all ten growing properly? It is quite natural now to walk in there and count to ten. Sometimes we are short one and we find it under a blanket or pushed to a corner, behind Macy. But, as she gets used to being a mom, we worry a little less each time we check on them. As she grows into being a “mom”, she is becoming wiser. But we will keep counting.
Can you see where I am going with this? 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves, to see whether we are in the faith. Just like we count to ten every time we go in that room that holds the puppies, so we should constantly be “counting to ten” in regards to our walk with God. There are a few checkpoints we can examine that will act like a barometer for the health of our spiritual life. Things such as:
–Are we studying God’s Word? Be careful here not to replace Bible Study with a 5 minute devotional written by a man or woman. While these can be good and challenging, don’t let them replace study of God’s Word.
–Are we praying? Do we have a regular time in prayer with God? And do we spend time praising Him and praying for others, or are our prayers focused mostly on ourselves?
–What does my heart desire when it comes to shopping, entertainment, or how I spend my time? Do I desire things that would line up with His Word…with what pleases Him?
–Am I loving others? Am I thinking outside my own selfish world, to see (and meet) the needs of hurting people around me?
This is a short list. Many things could be added. In fact, perhaps each of our lists looks differently, as we all struggle with different things. Perhaps some of us would add things like: Have I had outbursts of selfish anger? Or have I lied this week?
As we grow more mature in Christ, our list will change. We may overcome the lying, but perhaps will realize that we have a problem with submitting to our husband. We will grow wiser and not as susceptible to false teaching and temptation. But we need to always be examining our lives in light of the Bible. We can never stop being vigilant in our walk with God.
In the event we do find a puppy who isn’t growing at a good rate, we take the necessary steps to ensure it is getting enough to eat. We need to do the same thing for our souls. We need to make sure it is getting the healthy “food”–the bread of life– so that we can continue to spiritually grow properly. All is not lost when we find a puppy who is not growing. Adjustments just need to made. But you do not know a puppy is not growing unless you are counting…weighing…paying attention. We need to do the same in light of our walk with God.
Just like we are constantly counting to ten to make sure all of the puppies are alive and well and growing, so we all need to be checking to make sure our souls are alive and well and growing.