Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: guinea pig

Sheer Delight

Interacting with animals is one of life’s good gifts. (Warning: this is a post that only animal lovers will truly appreciate!)

My guinea pig Pickles used to love racing me up the stairs. I showed him how to do it, then initiated us racing side by side. Always me initiating.

Then one day, I felt pressure on my mid-calf. I turned and looked down. There was Pickles on his hind legs, nudging me with his front paws. When he saw he had my attention, he got into the start position at the bottom of the stairs. It was a proud and emotional moment as I took my place on all fours by his side, and then we galloped up together. I forget who won, it doesn’t matter, my little furry boy had come to me to play, and my heart was full.

These days, I look forward to having Truffles the rabbit to stay. He loves cuddles, especially having his head and face gently stroked and his nose kissed. When I stop, he butts me with his head, wanting more. It’s a delight when he responds by licking my nose, and then he sits back expectantly waiting for me to resume kissing and fussing over him.

Animals don’t have to respond. They could just put up with me fussing over them before trundling back to whatever truffles-and-methey were doing prior to me coming along. Sometimes they do just that. But when they respond with pleasure, or even initiate contact, that brings me joy.

I think it’s similar to the way we interact with God. He pursues all of us everyday with His goodness and mercy. But when we respond to Him, that delights His heart.

To be honest, I don’t always feel like praising God or spending time with Him. Sometimes work is busy, life feels pressured and stressed, and I’m tired. But I know that when I do come to Him, it delights and blesses His heart.

For me, this looks like walking or bouncing or dancing (depending how I feel) up and down the kitchen, singing and praying in tongues. I read the Bible with pleasure, as if He had written it just for me. That makes even the hard bits that I don’t understand precious, because my Friend wrote them.

Other times we go for a meander together through the woods or in the countryside. I even go running with Him.

The pleasure I have in playing with a rabbit or guinea pig is nothing in comparison to the sheer delight the Father has in me whenever I come into His presence.

Bunny Hops

I love looking after my friends’ rabbits and guinea pigs when they go on holiday. Truffles the rabbit is a regular visitor at Hotel Mandy and stays for a few weeks every summer. We are good friends now though it takes him a couple of days to settle in. At first, he is hesitant and clings to the familiar safety of his hutch. I open the door and try to coax him out, longing to fuss over him and have a game. He stares at me. Then, with all four paws firmly rooted in the sawdust, he stretches his head towards me, ready to withdraw immediately if I make a sudden movement. Soon, his front paws appear on the edge of the door and then I know it won’t be long before he jumps out and submits to having his ears and cheeks stroked (which he loves). For me, the best part is when Truffles suddenly starts racing around the carpet bunny hopping for sheer joy at his freedom.

Truffles reminds me of my friendship with God. I chose to follow Jesus while still in junior school. I quickly began serving in the church and in a Christian youth group, but I experienced no real joy or peace. If you had asked me what I believed, I would have said that God loved me and that He’d sent Jesus to die for me to take the punishment for the wrong things I had done. But what I actually believed in my heart was more: Jesus felt sorry for me and died for me but God was still angry with me so I had to work my socks off to try and earn His favour. I made life all about me rather than all about Jesus. The problem was that I didn’t really believe that God was who He said He was, or that I was who He said I was.

Thank God He loved me far too much to leave me in that state. In 2009, God led Adi and me to Grace Church where we were baptised in the Spirit. Things slowly began to change until last summer Bible truths I’d never understood before finally began to click. God has always loved me. He created me because He wanted me to be part of His Family. He isn’t angry with me. Jesus died for me so that His Dad could adopt me. I’ve been rescued out of the enemy’s domain of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son Jesus. (Woo hooo hooo!!!)

Truffles in hutchMy life with God began with me stuck in a hutch, imprisoned by the enemy’s lies. God had opened my hutch door and beckoned me out to freedom. It took thirty-odd years of me looking at God and wondering if He really was who He said He was and if I was who He said I was. For three decades it looked attractive – oh desperately attractive – but unattainable. Then I started craning my neck for a better look. Could God be trusted?

To experience God and all that He has for me, I had to make that leap out of the hutch. As soon as I believed that He is who He says He is and that I am who He says I am – that I’m His adopted daughter, a princess in His Kingdom, a joint heir of spiritual blessings with Jesus, someone He delights in and ‘woo hoos!’ over – I began to know increasing peace and joy in my life.

As I laugh aloud and love to see Truffles bunny hopping for sheer joy in his freedom, I am positive that God laughs with me and rejoices over me as I enjoy more and more of the freedom Jesus paid such a high price to give me. I relish my friendship with God and the complete security I have in Him.

 

Grateful

Five Minute Friday

I’m joining Five Minute Friday again this week, which is where bloggers from all over the world write on a theme chosen by Lisa-Jo Baker for five minutes without stopping to edit or self-critique their work, and then post the result on their blog. Today, the topic is: Grateful.

BEGIN:

Jack RabbitI’m grateful that God created animals. Jesus took the time and trouble to speak all the different species into being.
I’m grateful for the pets I’ve known: for Jack the rabbit’s comfort when my dad died, for Pickles the guinea pig enjoying our races up the stairs, and the way he stood up on his hind legs with his front paws on my calves to let me know when he wanted to race.

I’m grateful that God is light and there is no darkness in Him.  I’m grateful that His name reflects His character: love, light, beautiful, merciful, gracious, faithful. Jesus’ name is the most powerful name in the universe – darkness and demons flee before His name, and only through His name am I saved.

I’m grateful for my health. Thank You Lord for healing me! And for strengthening me every day.

I’m grateful for the tree outside my study window and for the pigeons that sit cooing on the fence.  I’m grateful for my nephew Stuart weeding the garden for us this week, so that I look out on tidiness and that gives my mind rest.

I’m grateful for Adrian – and for fifteen happy years of marriage. I’m grateful for the memories we share, for his faithfulness to me, for the fact that our marriage vows were more than just words uttered in the front of a church building – they were promises that we aim to keep, and that brings security.

I’m grateful to God because every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and He gives me all that I need. I’m grateful that God’s desire for me is that I have abundant life.

STOP.

 (Photo added afterwards)

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