“Come unto me….I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:28-29
If you have ever taken your dog to obedience classes, you will know that the first thing you’ll be taught is to train your dog how to “settle”. Settling takes time– quiet time at least 15 minutes a day. The dog’s master gets down on the floor where the dog lives. He/she silently reaches out and begins to pet the dog under its chin, between the shoulder blades, behind the ears in long, soothing strokes until you are both completely relaxed. Then, the master encourages the dog to lie down and then to roll over on its back.
In her book Saturdays with Stella: How My Dog Taught Me to Sit, Stay and Come When God Calls Allison Pittman tells about her experience training her dog Stella:
“Getting a dog to settle in its master’s presence is the ultimate demonstration of faith. To settle goes beyond simple sitting or lying down. A settled dog is on its back, belly exposed, mouth slack, ears flopped. A settled dog is not asleep, but fully awake, aware of its vulnerability, completely at ease with its master. A dog that will not settle does not trust. A dog that does not trust will not obey. ‘Settled’ is not a natural state for Stella.
The first time I try to settle Stella at home, she reacts with all the warmth and affection of an eight-year-old boy forced to endure the annual Christmas kiss from his aunt Edna who always smells of Jergens lotion and tarragon. Stella’s brown eyes dart all around the room, looking for an escape, and though she is sitting down, her hind legs are definitely coiled, ready to jump up and take off the minute I move my hand. Her mind seems to be racing with questions: What does she want? Where can I go? When will it end? Meanwhile, my heart is breaking because all I can see is that she doesn’t love me enough—doesn’t trust me enough—to simply enjoy a few minutes relaxed in my presence.”
This so perfectly describes me now as a widow. I have become the little pill bug that we had around our house when I was growing up. A pill bug commonly known as a roly-poly bug uses its hard exoskeleton to protect itself. Whenever you touch it or it becomes frightened, it immediately curls up into a ball. How many times have I just wanted to curl up in a corner with a blanket over my head to escape dealing with life! And it does not take much to make me want to take that position.
Rolling over onto my back with my belly exposed and just settling myself quietly before God? Submitting to His will? Believing that the death of my husband meant that his assignment from God on this earth was over at age 57 years old? Trusting that widowhood is going to work out for my good? Can I “settle” in God’s presence? I have mixed emotions about “settling”. I want to yet I do not want to. Yet, God tells me in Psalms 46:11 that I am to do just that—-“Be still and know that I am God”.
Those words “be still” mean to be quiet, to relax, and to let go. But God does not stop there. He tells me not only to be still but to “know” that He is God. “Know” means to admit that He is God. God is saying –
“Candy, settle yourself. Roll over on your back and expose your vulnerability to me and KNOW that I am God. Allow me to show you all that you need to know now. Believe that I love you with my everlasting love and that love is far greater than the love Bob had for you. I am more than able to take care of you. My promises are true even though you are questioning Me now. I was with you both on that morning that Bob came home and you were left on earth and I am still with you now. Trust me and allow me to prove Myself to you in your grief and pain.”