3:00 AM in the morning….

“I’m up, I’m up!” At least that’s what my dog wants me to be at 3:00 AM. Somehow, over the years, my senior dog, Lola, has decided that I need to feed her breakfast at 3:00 AM. At first, she was just so stinking cute. As a puppy, she’d bounce on the bed, wake me up with a squeaky little half bark and a soft lick on my face and then plead with me to get up, with her soft brown eyes. At first, I thought she was just too cute.

At first.

As with anything that starts out cute, there’s the ugly side to that kind of cute. Somehow, her squeaky little half bark as a puppy morphed into a demanding get-out-of-bed-now-if-you-ever-want-to-go-back-to-sleep-again kind of bark from a determined senior doggo. You know, the kind of bark that dogs bark when they think someone is breaking into your house, and you better get up and investigate immediately or else! That kind of bark isn’t easy to ignore. That kind of bark nestles itself nicely at the base of your spine and waits. Each bark sends a shooting jolt of wake-up to your brain like caffeine does when you have your first cup of morning coffee.

But. It. Won’t. Stop.

Not until I’m wide awake and her belly is full. Like a baby that cries non-stop until you finally give in and pick him up, goes my nightly routine. Oh, it’s rather late in the game to teach this old dog new tricks. It’s easier for me to just get up, feed her and then snuggle back for the rest of my night’s sleep rather than try to break her of this obnoxious habit at such an ungodly hour of the night.  

The truth is, I caved in a long time ago. I wanted peace, and I wanted sleep, so I took the easy road so I could get both. The road that got Lola what she wanted and got me what I wanted. But it wasn’t a win-win. It was a win for her and a loss for me, but the barking stopped, so I guess I take that as a 5th place runner-up win.

Lola’s middle of the night bark is a lot like a bad habit that starts out small and timid. Then, somehow, without your noticing, it owns you. It wants its way, like it or not.

It speaks ever so quietly to you in the beginning and over time, it has found its voice and demands that you listen. It consumes your attention and robs you of your time.  You are now a hostage to its demands.

But how do you break free? How do you stop the triggers that so easily entice you into repeating that bad habit over and over again?

Ephesians 4:27 says, “Do not give the devil an opportunity.” An opportunity.  I gave an opportunity and a bad habit was created for both Lola and me.

What about you? Do you have a bad habit that has ensnared you, one little bark at a time? As you take a few minutes to reflect, ask the Lord to help you take back the opportunity that you gave the enemy.  “So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you.” James 4:7.

The Lord wants to give you victory, not a 5th place runner-up kind of win. He wants you to have complete victory over your bad habits. “Victory comes from you, O Lord.” Psalm 3:8. 

Do you want freedom from your bad habits, no matter what they are? Ask the Lord for His help. Why not start today, but I wouldn’t recommend starting at 3:00 AM.

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