This is Milo. Milo is our college practicum on ‘self’. Yes, he looks like a dog but don’t let that fool you, he’s a bona fide teacher. Part lab, part pit-bull and 100% alpha male, with his equipment intact. A wonderful companion, loving protector and difficult thorn in our side ever since God brought him into our lives. Milo is a baby and a bully, ornery and sweet, and we love him to bits. Animals are important not only because they give us love but also valuable lessons from the Father. Milo is no different. We now realize that Milo was sent to give us a deep understanding of the nature of ‘self’.
Wilfuness in the nature of 'self'
As a living parable of the flesh nature God has taught us a lot about ourselves through Milo. Most of these lessons have been unpleasant but necessary.
The first lesson we learned from Milo about ‘self’ had to do with his willfulness. Milo is so large and powerful that if he wants to go somewhere, he will….even if you are hanging on to his leash being dragged through A) thorns, B) dirt and mud, C) ice and snow or D) wet grass.
Milo has the power of a Saturn V rocket at take-off and when he lunges anything holding on is simply along for the ride.
It took us years to figure out it took two leashes with two people just to hold him in place when he gets the ‘urge’ to go somewhere. Saying Milo is a reactive, willful beast would be somewhat tame.
Isn’t that typical of the ‘self’ nature? When it wants something, everything and everyone is an afterthought. The carnal nature does not care who is ‘hanging on’ or who has what as long as ‘self’ gets what it wants. ‘Self’ has no consideration for others and will take anything and everything it can get.
Lust in the nature of 'self'
Milo also has an eye for the ladies. Not just a little winky eye, no, Milo has a full-blown stare down at the object of his lustful gaze. Once his target is acquired, he goes after her with all the romance of a caveman with a club. It is extremely embarrassing as he has the subtlety of a Vegas lounge act.
Our lustful male will stop at nothing to engage in one of his favorite activities and it has taken a significant amount of effort to make sure there are no little Milo’s popping out. When Milo first arrived, we lived in a rural area and were poor, so he ran around without a leash. At first, this was fine, but as we journeyed, I noticed him change his behavior.
Initially Milo would stick close, constantly monitoring where I was, but as we walked, he started wandering. Every so often he checked to see if I was still watching him. Eventually he wandered farther away, but always within sight, checking periodically if I was watching. If I got distracted in an instant, he was gone. No matter how much I called, Milo would not come back until he had gratified his lust. When he returned, he was punished, but that never stopped him.
Do not trust 'self'
Now we know that Milo is untrustworthy. He is not allowed outside now without a leash. Through these trials Milo taught us about the nature of ‘self’ and all of its lustful desires.
You cannot, and must not, trust the carnal nature in any capacity or give it any quarter for it will abuse that privilege mightily. It is tricky, carnal and completely without morals. ‘Self’ wants what it wants and will use deceit and trickery to fulfill its lustful desires.
The comfort loving nature of the flesh nature
For a dog born in the poorest part of P.E.I. and has lived with a homeless family his entire life, it is surprising how much Milo craves comfort. Not just any comfort, this dog is particular about his comfort.
Milo started his journey into hedonism innocently enough. When we were living in the tarp in the woods, we only had a few blankets to sleep on and to cover ourselves. The dogs slept at our feet on what little protection from the ground we could give them. Patches was fine with this, but not Milo. Oh, no. Every morning we found that he had weaseled his way onto the blankets and pushed one of us off.
Comfort gets an upgrade
Milo’s comfort has come first ever since; at least in his mind. When we were living in apartments, he learned that he was allowed on the couch. You could say we felt sorry for him, but he soon became addicted to the soft cushions. That was fine unless he wanted to go to sleep.
If we were sitting on ‘his’ couch he whimpered, whined and was all put out until we moved and he could go to bed. I have never met such a being that is so addicted to comfort and the pleasure of self. Wait. Scratch that. I forgot that I worked for a billionaire once. So I have met two beings in my life that are addicted to self and the pleasure of self.
Milo has been a lesson on how much ‘self’ wants its own comfort even at the expense of others because the flesh nature does not care for others.
The cunning and manipulative nature of the carnal nature
We learned the hard way that you cannot appease ‘self’ or it will abuse your grace exponentially. The flesh nature only ever cares for itself and nothing will ever change that.
Searching out comfort and sneaking away are trademarks of our dog, but he stretches it even farther. Milo is shameless with his cunning and manipulation when there is something he wants. This dog has taken begging to an art form. Seriously. I think he should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the absolute shamelessness of his begging.
I hold Wanda partially responsible for this. She has been spoiling our ‘poor, sweet puppy wuppems’ and slowly turning him into a Vienna sausage, but Milo has done much on his own. When he wants to go for a walk, he whines until we take him out, like an ungreased door hinge or fingernails on a chalkboard. Real pleasant. Then we find out he has been taking correspondence lessons in English.
When we mention the words ‘walk’ or ‘out’ with the word ‘Milo’ he suddenly becomes Godzilla.
His tail beating against legs, knick knacks, plates of food, etc. becomes a vicious weapon of mass destruction as he is gripped in paroxysms of pleasure at the mere idea of urinating. Trying to leash him qualifies us for calf roping or steer wrestling competitions. When he gets his way Milo becomes docile as a lamb.
The danger of saying 'no' to 'self'
The carnal nature easily manipulates others as well as ourselves but we often minimize the impact. This is another trick the flesh nature uses. ‘Self’ is so tricky that it will use any means necessary to get its own way. When one caves to the pressure, the carnal nature is overjoyed, but heaven forbid you should say no to ‘self’ for it would unleash a torrent of anger and hatred. The word ‘no’ is anathema to the flesh and it loathes not getting what it wants. If you don’t believe me, try saying ‘no’ to a two year old or an Antifa fascist.
‘Self’ is a manipulative beast that wants nothing but what pleases it.
The fearful nature of the flesh
For all of Milo’s bravado and alpha male aggressiveness, he is a fearful mutt. We had to leave him once in the cottage by the sea. Milo wrecked a door and a window 5 feet off the ground just trying to get out. He cannot stand to be apart from us, so we never leave him alone now.
In a thunderstorm, Milo becomes a puddle. He will cuddle up close and lean into one of us with his full 90 pounds, expecting us to make the scary noise go away. I have never met a more fearful dog in my entire life. This big, brawny, muscular puppy whimpering like a baby because of fear. Pathetic.
One of principal things we learned about the carnal nature through Milo was just how fearful ‘self’ is. ‘Self’ leads people to live in constant fear and act out of that fear. It is a terrible bondage. What most do not understand is that ‘self’ is unnatural and is destined for death. That is why ‘self’ is so fearful.
God did not create ‘self’ nor can our flesh nature be a part of Him, so it must die. The carnal nature does not want death, so it wraps a person in complete fearfulness to prevent the inevitable. If people understood only when we surrender our ‘self’ to God and let Him destroy the enemy of our soul can we be free from fear.
The crucifixion of the flesh nature
As ‘self’ dies, along with the fear it brings, we are free to live in faith knowing that God will always take care of us. We cannot begin to describe the sheer pleasure and freedom that comes with the carnal nature being crucified.
Milo is a dog and is the way God made him; lessons and all. Even though we love him, he can’t be anything else but a dog. We, however, are humans who can be either a conduit for ‘self’ or spirit. We have a choice to deny the wilfulness, lust, manipulation and fear of the ‘self’ nature or allow it to grow.
I pray you find the courage today to let the ‘self’ die and let the spirit live.
Homer and Wanda
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A very good illustration indeed!
And Milo thinks so too. 😉