Longing for Familiar

We’ll take being miserable yet familiar instead of happy but new.

Dara Simons

We once lived with a family who had a beautiful Great Dane dog. When you walked in the house he greeted you with a wagging tail but sometimes a growl. 

Poor Wilbur was insecure and didn’t know how to process his “bigness” nor his fears. So our friends consulted with a dog trainer. She came to the house and watched his behavior. 

She immediately asked, “when he growls at people, what is your first response.” 

Our friend said, “We put him outside immediately.”

To which the dog trainer replied something very interesting. “Putting him outside gives him too much freedom. He gets even more overwhelmed and insecure with his surroundings. Put him in his crate, where he’s comfortable and sheltered.”

So everytime Wilbur would growl at someone the routine was to command him to his crate. 

Overtime Wilbur would growl and then walk directly to his crate. It was almost like a security blanket. 

I was reminded of Wilbur this week thinking about how we all are quick to growl at our circumstances.

Before the pandemic we longed for shorter work hours, more time with our children, a chance to just sit and read a book, or more quality time spent with our Creator. 

But now during this pandemic, we find ourselves longing for days at work, time away from our children and something to do other than read another book or maybe even opening our Bibles. 

Longing for the familiar.

But it’s not just us. The children of Israel found themselves to have the same discontented heart. 

They said, “It would have been better if the Lord had just killed us in the land of Egypt. At least there we had plenty to eat. We had all the food we needed. But now you have brought us out here into this desert to make us all die from hunger.”

Exodus 16:2-3

This was month 2 for the Israelites wandering in the desert. These people had seen miracles. They watched God part the sea. Watching with their own eyes their enemy drowned. They knew the power of their God and that they were protected, loved and guided. 

But when we refuse to remember what the Lord has done in the past, it is difficult to be grateful in the present. 

What times in your life with Jesus have you seen him show up? 

They longed for their former life. Even though that life was the one they begged God to deliver them from. 

Are we any different? 

Are we like Wilbur the Great Dane? Do we long for open spaces and freedom to do anything we please, but then growl at our circumstances because we can’t handle this much freedom? 

So three things I want to offer you during our longing for familiar. 

The first thing is to remember your past with Jesus. 

Have you walked with the Lord a long time, or just a short period of time? Write down times you’ve seen him faithfully show up in your life through answered prayers, friends, church, scripture. 

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

He is not far. He has not left you. And simply because we long for change in our circumstances, doesn’t shift who He says He is. 

Remember what the Lord has done for you in Egypt and in the wilderness.

The second thing I’d love for you to do is to pray for a heart of contentment.

Be in the present. Stay in a heart of gratitude for what you do have, not what you had or what you want in the future. 

Write down things during the day that you see God alive in. Such as a giggling child, a blooming flower, sunshine on your skin. God is just as much alive in these gifts as He is when you can leave your home and do the things you’re wanting to do. 

If we can’t be grateful in the present, it will be hard to be grateful when the future becomes the present. 

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

The last thing I want to encourage you to do when you find yourself longing for familiar is dream with a heart like God’s. 

Dream big. But dream using eyes, feet, hands and a heart like our God’s. 

Dream thinking about the people He created. Dream with and for the orphan, the widow and those needing justice. 

What gifts are you chomping at the bit to use for His Kingdom? Or is the wiggling and squirming to get out of the house simply to satisfy something else?

Do we trust that God knows what He’s doing when he puts us in our crates of safety and assurance? Or are we growling like Wilbur at our present circumstances?

Is the longing for freedom maybe a heart problem of discontentment in the provision God lovingly provides as best and good?

Longing for familiar leaves us complacent and stuck. My prayer is we can remember the faithfulness of God from our past, be grateful during our present and dream with God’s heart for the future

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