Release!

Me & Joe, circa 1988

For my fifth birthday my grandpa took me out and got me a puppy.

Without asking my parents first.

But that’s another story.

Bringing home that wiggly little bundle of red fur was so exciting. He was a Vizsla, we named him Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors; we called him Joe.

After the newness wore off, I became less interested in Joe. Then my dad began training him to be a bird hunting dog.

Interest was piqued again.

A bird wing was attached to a fishing pole, then swung out into a field for Joe to find. He needed to learn basic commands: Sit, Stay, Come, Fetch,

Release.

That one was important, because what good was a hunting dog who didn’t know to let go of the bird once he’d found it?

Chucking a tennis ball as far as my little arm could send it, Joe would sit, quivering, until he heard: Fetch! Then, a streak of red flew across the field, resulting in an excited dog dropping a slobbery prize at my feet.

If in a silly mood, Joe would worry the ball and dodge my attempts to get it from him. In those moments the only way to get the ball back was to say: Release.

A simple command, one Joe had learned to obey no matter how much he didn’t want to.

Don’t fret or worry.

This is not a suggestion. This is not some self-help plan for a less stressful life.

This is a command.

Do. Not. Worry.

Look at the phrases normally associated with worry:

It made me anxious.

I was gripped by fear.

It caused me to fret.

I grew afraid.

All of these are predatory; implying there is no choice but to be consumed by worry.

Scripture tells us differently:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6, emphasis mine

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31, emphasis mine

What’s the choice then? What can we do instead of worry?

Instead of worrying, pray.

What does Paul say to the Philippians:

by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6b, emphasis mine

Prayer. Supplication with thanksgiving.

When my kids need help, they don’t sit in their rooms and fret about it. Instead, a request is made:

“Mom! Dad! I need help!”

We need to become like children again (hmm…sounds familiar) and remember to ask our Daddy for help. And then say thank you.

When you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about finances. Pray.

In those times when a friend or family member is ill. Pray.

During a difficult season of your marriage. Pray.

As your child is heading out on their own for the first time. Pray.

In. Everything.

Pray.

How often has someone exhausted all their resources and then said, “Now all we can do is pray.”

Wrong. Always all we can do is pray.

::

Joe learned to refuse his natural instinct at the command of his master.

It’s time for us to do the same.

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31 Comments

  1. Joy says:

    I love the mental picture of Joe with a bird in his mouth — thank you for that! Not worrying is a command, isn’t it. Hard to obey, but not an option.

    1. Melissa says:

      So hard to obey. As I reread this post, I almost feel like I’m scolding my children. I didn’t intend it to come across so forcefully. I think it’s just that I so badly needed to hear this as well. :)

  2. V.V. Denman says:

    Thank you for this reminder. My natural inclination is to worry. It comes so much easier than prayer. But prayer sure works better, doesn’t it?

    1. Melissa says:

      I am such a worrier! That’s why this topic hit me so hard. God has really been pressing on me the need to turn to Him in my troubles. Not deal with it myself, not look to my family or husband, but to rely soley on Him. It’s so hard and I still wake up in panic attacks. But it’s getting better and somewhat easier to remember He’s all I need and He’s my provider.

  3. HisFireFly says:

    Well said!

    How we need to learn to respond as quickly to that one word “release”

    1. Melissa says:

      I had a completely different post half-way written, then God reminded me of those times with Joe. He had something He was trying to tell me. Glad others are getting something from it too. :)

  4. Sheryl says:

    What a good reminder! I love the way prayer can lead to release, but it’s an every time thing, isn’t it?

    1. Melissa says:

      Ha! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just pray once about worry and never have to deal with it again? I guess this makes it more of an addiction, huh? Like, “Hi, my name is Melissa, and I’m a worrier.” I’ll always be a worrier even if I don’t worry again? It definitely is an every time thing.

  5. Haley says:

    Good articulation! I needed that. I will be mentally heading out to an imaginary field with a bird wing on a fishing pole to teach myself the command, “Pray.” It’s all about discipline, isn’t it? :-)

    …By the way, that picture of you looks SO much like Cora, it’s amazing!

    1. Melissa says:

      Haha! Just you wait! I found all the pictures that were scanned onto disc for our wedding montage. I’m gonna post them on Facebook today. :) It’s amazing how much my kids look like me!

  6. Levi says:

    I didn’t know you had a Vizsla. That’s my “dream dog” (don’t tell Winston… Winston’s my dream dog, but I still want a Vizsla). I love that picture, it reminds me of myself as a child with my Uncle’s Vizslas (the inspiration for my dream). Oh, and I love the rest of the post too ;)

    1. Melissa says:

      Most people know about Weimaraners, but not Vizslas. He was a good dog! He was the exact same age as Darren and we had him till he was 10 or 11 (the dog, not my brother – haha). Maybe someday you can get Winston a friend. :) Winston’s pretty cute though. Haha!

  7. Brett Barner says:

    “How often has someone exhausted all their resources and then said, “Now all we can do is pray.”

    Wrong. Always all we can do is pray.” <<~~Love this

    1. Melissa says:

      When I reread that and see “Wrong” I feel a little like Dwight from the Office. :) Maybe that’s just me though. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

      1. Brett Barner says:

        puaha!

        Fact – I am faster than 80% of all snakes.

        1. Melissa says:

          Haha! Exactly! :)

  8. You told this story so well. And I think it’s something we need to hear again and again and again.

    And a dog named Joe! Love it.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks! :) He was a great dog. And yes, it’s something I need to hear over and over as well.

  9. jasonS says:

    That’s awesome, Melissa! All we can do it pray and trust and follow Him and His word. We go through our training and testing so that whenever God says “release” we’ll do it without thinking or protesting. Love it!

    1. Melissa says:

      You make it sound so easy. :) Haha! Enjoyed your guest post today. I really needed to hear it.

  10. Prayer is the key.

    Very good stuff.

  11. Faith Barista Bonnie says:

    Great post, Melissa! It’s a lot about our willingness … Do I want to fight my natural instinct? … Loved your pic… Such a QT!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks Bonnie! What a fun Faith Jam this week. :)

  12. Debbie says:

    Great post. It’s amazing how quickly worry dissipates when I pray…especially when I pray Scripture.

    1. Melissa says:

      I love turning to scripture for the words to pray. There’s something special about speaking words that others have dedicated to God.

  13. Debbie says:

    What a simple reminder; don’t worry ~ PRAY!

    I love these powerful reminders and I love the photo of your dog and you.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

    1. Melissa says:

      Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the answers to our biggest problems. God’s definitely been showing me that.

  14. Amy Nabors says:

    Such wise thoughts. It’s human nature to want to fix it on our own. If only we can learn to do like your dog and withstand those natural instincts. Pray first and then follow His voice. Wonderful post!

    1. Melissa says:

      It’s the praying first part that is the hardest. It’s so hard not to try to figure out a fix on our own, and when that doesn’t work; pray. Thanks for the encouragement, Amy! :)

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