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Back when I was in college, a friend and I used to go cave exploring as often as possible. Sometimes we went caving about twice a week. One evening we followed a lead for a new cave that we had heard about, one that was in the top of a ridge and was supposed to be really huge. When someone tells you a cave is really large, then it’s probably not going to be much bigger than a groundhog hole.
After an hour of walking up and down some really big hills, we finally saw a small hole at the top of a knob. As we got down on all fours, we crawled in about five feet and we started smelling something really bad. We crawled a little further and we soon discovered the source of the smell, which just happened to be an old dead dog. We later named the cave Dead Dog Cave.
A dead dog is a very unpleasant image to think about. We don’t want to imagine such a sight, but how many of us actually think about a dead dog on a daily basis? This might sound like a really strange question; but we will see today that fear can produce within our minds the image of a dead dog. If any of us live in fear on a daily basis, the dead dog we see is ourselves - hang on and we’ll soon see what this is all about.
Today we are going to look at the story a young man named Mephibosheth who, after having an encounter with fear, looked upon himself as a dead dog. We will come to discover that many of us view ourselves as dead dogs too; and we are also going to discuss how we can overcome having a dead dog image.
Fear Can Be Crippling (2 Samuel 4:4)
4 Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.
Can somebody say Mephibosheth? King Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth, was taken away by his nursemaid in a flight of fear after she heard about the death of Saul and the death of Mephibosheth’s father, Jonathan. It is not entirely Mephibosheth’s fault that he was on the run, but because he was running he fell and became lame. What I want to point out here is that when we run from tough situations because of fear it can become crippling to us.
Fear is crippling to our trust in God; and fear is the result of a lack of trust and faith. John Ortberg says, “Fear whispers to us that God is not really big enough to take care of us. It tells us we are not really safe in His hands.” The more times we doubt God, the more we become afraid, and the more we are afraid, the more we are wounded and debilitated. And the more we are wounded, the more we continue to distrust God, and this cycle seems to go on and on, never seeming to end. We keep right on fearing, not trusting God and never living in the blessings that come from a wholehearted devotion and trust in the Lord – we are crippled.
Fear causes a person to back down from a difficult situation, and then that person begins a pattern of running away. This in turn causes low self-esteem, or should I say low “Christ-esteem,” because we forget how our Lord Jesus sees us.
The American Psychological Association’s research on self-esteem shows that it “boils down to one issue: When you face a difficult situation, do you approach
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