“Sh!”

I remember when Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer came out.  Canine owners brought their bad-news poochies to Cesar for serious rehabilitation.

One of the most common–and annoying–problems a dog on the show would have was barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.

And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.  And barking.

And more barking.

But Cesar Millan had a strategy.  He would poke the dog with his hand and say a loud, crisp, “Sh!”  It was not a “Shhhh!” but a “Sh!” quick as a snap.  The dog would usually try more barks, and Cesar would “Sh!” the dog each time, and then the dog would stop.  Without hurting or screaming at the dog, Cesar Millan could get a totally obnoxious dog to stop barking.  The dog would be all quiet at last.

I don’t have a dog nowdays, but I sure could use Cesar’s strategy on myself.

I know what it’s like to live with barking all day long.  I know, because I am a world-class barker.  Only, I don’t bark at delivery trucks or doorbells.  I bark at myself.

I yap worry.  I howl fear.  I growl guilt.  I whine doubt.  I yelp terror.  And I woof shame.

I am like the dog who barks and barks and barks and barks and barks and barks and barks and barks and never shuts up.

There are days I don’t even hear God’s voice over my barking.  I read His Word, but I can’t hear what He says over my barking.  I pray to Him, but it’s all barking.  I want to listen for His answer, but I can’t hear above my own barking.  And not hearing Him makes me bark even louder.

What I need to learn is how to tell myself Sh!

Not yapping, howling, growling, whining, yelping, or woofing at myself, but just telling myself, Sh!

Psalm 46:10a says,

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (ESV)

God knows we are barkers at heart.  And there’s a very real reason we are: we are upset!

A dog barks when something in the world seems out of place.  We bark because almost everything in our world seems out of place.  There is what seems like an almost never-ending cacophony of chaos around us.  I try not to watch the news for even five minutes, lest I be more frightened of planet earth than I already am.

A great deal of everything around us surprises us, frightens us, unnerves us, or confuses us.  Just look at a baby’s face as (s)he tries to figure out the world.  The world is a scary place, and has been ever since the Fall!

Yes, God knows we are barkers at heart.  But He commands us not to stay that way.

Have you ever seen a dog bark at a vacuum cleaner, or a house guest, or a squirrel outside the window?  The barking doesn’t solve any problems.  Instead, the barking causes the dog to get worked up into a useless–but exhausting–frenzy.

Likewise, my barking doesn’t solve any of my problems.  The answer to my problems isn’t a louder bark or more dedication to barking (and believe me, I’ve tried).  The answer to my problems is to trust in Jesus Christ.

When I get all barky, what I need to tell myself is,

Sh!

Jesus is making the world right.  And He doesn’t need my barking to help.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a, ESV)

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