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STORY: Tension is the Pull to Go Deeper


Audrey was proud she built the doggy door herself. She wanted Baxter to be able to get comfortable with the neighborhood kids outside her yard but also be able to come inside to get out of the sun. She was training him to one day be able to minister to troubled youth with her.


She was gone each day at work but they had been doing pretty well with Baxter’s potty training. That was, however, until the past week. He had peed all over the floor several times. She was mad and scolded him the first and second time (she knew he knew better) but after the third, she was perplexed.


She sat on her little backyard patio that Saturday, with her coffee, looking down at Baxter. “What is going on with you, Buddy? This isn’t going to work if you pee everywhere when we’re helping kids out.”


Just then a football thumped into her yard and Baxter looked in its direction.


“Miss Johnson, can we come get our football in your yard, please?” Sean was a 12 year old, the oldest of the neighborhood kids, and kind of the posse leader.


“Of course, Sean.”


Baxter whined lightly.


Sean leapt over the short chain link fence, with surprising ease.


“How has your mom been doing, Sean?”


“She’s still in the hospital.”


“I’m sorry to hear that. Tell her I’m praying for her.”


“Yes, ma’am.” Sean grabbed the ball and leapt handily back over the fence even as it wobbled a little.


Baxter watched sean with ears perked up, still whining quietly.


She looked down at him. “Hmm… Are you trying to tell me something, buddy?”


That day she went to Home Depot and got a little camera monitoring system. It came with three cameras. She put one in the front, one in the back, and just because she had an extra, she put the third up in the kitchen.

When she came home from work on Monday Baxter had peed all over the floor again. He also kept trotting back and forth in the kitchen as if it all reeked to him and he couldn’t find a comfortable place.

She sat down at her table. Baxter stuck close to her. She pet him as she logged into the app where she could access the videos. She pushed play on the back yard video. The motion sensor was falsely triggered a couple times by the kids playing beside her yard, but then in the video she saw Sean jump over her fence. He held a chocolatey candy bar wrapper up to Baxter. Baxter cautiously licked at it as it fell to the ground. And then Sean beckoned to two of the other little neighborhood kids. They hopped over the fence and made their way to her back door. They went out of view so Audrey switched to the inside camera. Her eyes got large as she watched them, one by one, crawl through the doggy door.

She watched them sit down at her table and then she saw Sean pull out a spoon. He carefully dipped it into a small bag of powder. Then he held a lighter underneath it as he breathed in the fumes. They all took turns and then left the kitchen into other rooms in her house. She looked around as if everything in her house was contaminated, or suspect. The place that had felt most safe now felt defiled.

She looked down at Baxter, took a deep breath and leaned down and held him tight. Thanks big guy for letting me know. I’m so sorry for getting mad and punishing you. This whole time you were trying to tell me something very important, and all I did was be bothered by the inconvenience. I’ll get better at listening to you and we’ll make a good team to help these kids some day.

—-

It’s easy to get bothered when something in the Bible is vexing, angering, or seemingly contradictory. But the ancient Jewish perspective of the scripture was that problems were purposefully placed in the text to alert the astute reader to look deeper. It drew them in to look for a less apparent message, something that God thought could open up a new world of understanding, if we were only looking close enough.

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