My mother, who was from the southern part of the United States, brought me up with many expressions that are completely unknown to my friends and neighbors in Canada. Take, for example, the expression: "My dogs are barking!"

To me this means, "My feet hurt." But my friends and colleagues all look at me blankly and say, "I thought you only had one dog, Lyn."

The other day, something happened that brought a whole new meaning to the expression, "My dogs are barking."

I didn't feel good, and I hadn't been sleeping well. Add to that the problems of the past 24 hours, and especially the last 2, and, well, suffice is to say I wasn't at the highest peak of my life.

As is my habit when I'm upset, I decided to go for a walk so that I could talk with God. Taking my one dog on a leash (and yes, I truly do have only one!), we headed out into the night.

With my mind occupied with my conversation with God, my feet found their own way down the familiar route, and as I headed down the customary back road, I suddenly became aware of barking dogs. There were, in fact, about 8-10 different dog voices baying out from their respective homes.

I wasn't in any danger. The domestic dogs of all sizes and shapes were either chained up or locked behind the gates of their respective houses. But those baying, yapping, barking voices entered into my head, driving out all the peace and calm that God had been trying to restore in me, to the point that all I could hear were those barking dogs.

Tears came to my eyes as my arch-enemy "self-pity" paid an unwelcome visit: "You already have so much going on. This walk with God was your only hope, and now, you can’t even hear His voice because of these barking dogs!"

Was it all some nasty trick of the devil, designed to keep me from hearing God's voice?

But wait. My dog and I take this same route 2-3 times a week. This certainly wasn't the first time we had been barked at. Why hadn't I noticed the dogs before? Besides, these dogs couldn't hurt me. They were nothing but a distraction, and the only reason they were bothering me tonight was that I was allowing myself to be distracted by them.

Suddenly it made sense. It was my choice to be bothered by the dogs. It was my choice to even hear their baying voices. And by choosing to allow them to bother me, I was allowing the enemy to interfere with my talk with God.

And as I focused on these thoughts, I realized that although the dogs were still stirring up the neighborhood with their racket, I was no longer bothered by them. Focusing my attention back to God made it so I didn't even hear them anymore.

Then the full meaning of what God had revealed to me suddenly broadened. All of my "wonderful" reasons for being upset that night were nothing more than barking dogs. They were things being used to distract me from the peace I have in Christ. And just like it was my choice to be bothered by those dog voices, it was also my choice to have become upset. It was my choice to even notice those negative circumstances. I had allowed the enemy to interfere with my peace by choosing to focus on the circumstances instead of on the One would was really in control.

I tuned out those circumstantial "barking dogs" right then and there. I gave it all to God and turned my thoughts and mind to Him. I won't say the problems immediately went away, but somehow they didn't seem so ominous anymore. I began to physically feel better, and I slept well that night. I had found the peace I had allowed to drift away.

The next time you feel like you've lost your peace, friends, ask yourself this question: "Are my dogs barking?"

And no, I, not talking about your feet, nor the four-legged beasts you may or may not have in your homes. I am talking about the circumstances and problems, the distractions the devil is trying to use to pull you away from your peace in Christ. Focus back on Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:2), and sit back and see how those "barking dogs" no longer bother you.

"My dogs are barking!"

No problem. Give them to Jesus and let your peace return to you.
 
In His love,
Lyn


Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.