Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Our Nature...

I'm heartsick.

A couple of mornings ago as I came to my office I noticed him. He was beautiful. Solid black fur, golden eyes that seemed to contain the knowledge of the ages. I shooed him away because I know what happens if the dogs get to a cat. They killed one last year, and I didn't ever want that to happen again.

Last night I noticed that Dad's shepherd, Kodi,
had scratches on her nose. None of us could figure out where they came from. As I doctored her up, she leaned her chin on my shoulder. I hugged her tight, this gentle, loving dog, and told her to try and stay out of trouble. She gave me a doggie grin and trotted off to follow Dad to bed.

This morning Dad came into the office and called me out to the yard. The look on his face made my heart race. I hurried to follow him, and he pointed to the yard. "Is that a cat?" I turned, and there, lying motionless in the grass, was the black cat.

Suddenly the scratches made terrible sense.

I wanted to hit something. To weep. To rage at the dogs. But even as I turned to Kodi, who was there with the other dogs, Dad stopped me. "It's in their nature, Karen. You can't change that."

He's right, of course. Certain dog breeds are hunters, and any small animal that moves quickly will trigger that instinct. Siberians are notorious cat killers. Shepherds, when not raised with cats, can be as well. But I had such a hard time reconciling that fact with these dogs I know and love. These dogs who are so funny and loving, who like nothing more than to crawl up into my lap (yes, even the 75-lb shepherd) and lean against me, all hugs and cuddles. How could these normally sweet-natured dogs have done this? Yes, I know they're animal, they work on instinct, and dogs are, first and foremost, hunters. Still...

I struggled with these questions as I lifted the cat from the cold, wet grass. I found myself apologizing. Weeping. Overwhelmed with sorrow that such a beautiful creature could be reduced to this... When I stood, I saw Kodi there, watching--and in a flash of anger, I almost did it. I almost kicked her. Hard.

That's when it hit me. It's in our nature, too.

The urge to strike out. To attack. To hurt without thinking. To destroy even something beautiful because, when the baser nature takes over, we don't see things like beauty or innocence. We just react. And in that reaction, heinous acts are committed. Innocence destroyed. Beauty ravaged. Lives shattered. All you have to do is watch the news or read the paper to know that's true.

With dogs, they're operating on instinct. No amount of reasoning can change that. But thank God, for us, it's a different story. The apostle Paul said it better than I ever could:

"I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me [my sinful nature] that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."

The Message puts Paul's words this way:

"I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

"I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?... The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different."

How do we overcome that dark nature within us? How do we keep ourselves from giving in to those urges to strike out, to hurt, to embrace revenge and retaliation when we're wounded and heart sick. We don't. But Jesus Christ can and does. His death on the cross brings us forgiveness, redemption. His resurrection restores us as God's very own. We're cleansed. Set free. Given a new way to live. And here's the best news of all: though we will always, always fail in our efforts to do what's right--that, too, is in our human nature--God's grace is there for us. We have but to ask, and that grace will cleanse us anew. Set us free. Make us blameless in His sight. Because He loves us. Unconditionally.

And that, my friends, is His nature.



Kathleen L. said...

I feel for you, Karen. My German Shepherd once ate my hand-tamed love bird. It's what dog people call prey drive, and it can be very useful for training incentive. Too bad I didn't know how to capitalize on it in a positive way.
Love the way you turned it around to showcase human nature versus the divine. Touching post.

Ginny Yttrup said...

Wow, Karen, thank you for taking the struggle you met this morning and allowing God to use it for His glory. Your blog is a gentle reminder of the wonder of God's mercy and grace for us. I needed that today...

Theresa Lode said...

Wow. This is a powerful story, Karen. You hit me between the eyes with the ..."it's in our nature too..."
I'm so sorry you had to deal with the grief of the dead kitty; that would have been very difficult.
Bless you....

Cynthia said...

You know I was thinking about them being dogs the other day, I have golden retrievers but they found a porcupine in the woods a couple of days ago, one is better trained than the other so she "left it" the other one spent some time up close and personal with the pliers!
I am so glad we have a Savior.