“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” ~ Helen Keller

Huddling by candlelight is not necessarily romantic. My wife and I reclined on pillows in the dark hallway because Mother Nature was taking a howling swipe at us. Although definitely not the right setting for romance, it would have at least been peaceful were it not for our neurotic dog.

Misha has been a member of our family for only a few months, but is already ensconced as a couch potato of the highest variety. My wife gave her to me on my 56th birthday, and we both marveled at the time at her ridiculously low price. Registered Rhodesian Ridgebacks normally sell for a thousand dollars or more, making Misha’s $100 price tag a mere pittance. Born six years ago, she has been used for breeding all her life and the story we were told is that her fifth and last pregnancy was brutal. None of the litter survived, so her breeders were looking for a home where she would be well cared for and loved. The three of us meshed almost immediately, but my wife and I have since gained a better understanding as to why Misha was not strong breeding stock. 

Our first clue came during a deafening thunderstorm. Misha paced back and forth panting, then attempted to wedge her 72 pound frame into the two foot space behind my wife’s embroidery table. The second clue materialized as we watched Misha react in abject terror when she encountered our cats. Ailurophobia is not a desirable trait for Ridgebacks originally bred by Afrikaaners in Southern Africa for the purpose of hunting lions. Suffice to say that a breeding dam afraid of her own shadow and terrified of cats comes up short in the desired DNA department. Daughter of Simba and Nala, granddaughter of Sidboarani Ruffion Muskit Ridge, great granddaughter of Zyon King of Kalahari, Misha Kalahari is an adorable companion, but a lousy champion of canine ferocity. 

The image of Misha cowering before our Siamese and Calico came to me the other day when I caught myself relinquishing hope in the shadow of inevitable battles over what and Who constitutes truth. Created in the image of the Almighty and recreated by the resurrected King of Kings, how dare I bow beneath the weight of worry and fear? Vocal minorities and savvy political charlatans claim the upper hand, all the while powerless to overcome He who has already overcome. A defeated believer is an oxymoron; Christianity was never intended as a defensive posture. Jesus says as much when he declares that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church. The better translation of “the gates of hell shall not prevail” in Matthew 16 is “shall not withstand.” The Church marches relentlessly forward and the forces of evil cannot withstand her onslaught. “Think about the picture here. Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. Now tell me, how do gates prevail? When have you ever seen gates on the march? They don’t attack. They fortify. They are there to hold their ground. That’s all. Hell is not on the offensive, brothers and sisters. The church is on the offensive. The church is marching into all the hells in this world, ready to reclaim every square inch for Christ. And when we storm the gates of hell, Christ promises that we cannot fail” (Kevin DeYoung). Make no mistake about it, we are at war. “Moral relativity is the enemy we have to overcome before we tackle atheism” (C. S. Lewis). The great news about the Good News is that the battle is the Lord’s and we are on the winning side. Fulfill your birthright; advance under the banner of our victorious King.

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