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The Anatomy of a Tick

The Garrison household has officially gained a new family member:

Everyone meet: Tiller!

Oh my– Ain’t he cute??

This would be my very first puppy of all time! You know, one that I picked out, have to feed and bathe– One I am ‘responsible’ for. I mean I’ve had a dog before, but my dad did all that stuff and I just played with him 🙂

He is such a good dog. He snuggles, doesn’t bark outrageously when we put him in his kennel to go to sleep, he gets along with Dozer (our other pup), his “outside peeing skills” are definitely improving, and his personality is just hilarious!

And. His whimper. Good gracious– It is SO cute! Every time I come to get him from outside, he leaps into my arms and whimpers as I rub his belly. Mmm.. Melt my heart.

One of my sweet friends came over to see the little guy a few months ago and as she was admiring him and petting him, she stopped and pulled back his fur and said:

“Oh no, Kaitlin, is that a tick?”

Well, I for one couldn’t tell you that because I had never seen a tick before!

But after seeing four, five, six little reddish brown things burrowed in his ear, I was sure I never wanted to again!

They’re gross. Absolutely gross little blood- sucking varmints.

Not to mention, they infested my poor little puppy!

We went through his head and ears and plucked them suckers out of his fur as he yelped (break my heart) and squirmed. Finally– we had gotten them all out!

Or, I thought we did.

Until I found a dozen more the next day after I gave him a bath.

And then more few weeks later.

And then a few more months later.

Blegh, it just creeps me out that there could still be dozens of little pathogens on my puppy as I watch him scratch and itch and roll all over the carpet (Lord, if one of those things crawl on me… I’ll die).

So, my disgust and sorrow for my stickered puppy drove me to do some research on these creatures.

*Why* did I spend an hour at the library looking at dozens of pictures and diagrams of ticks? I have no idea. The people sitting next to me at the library probably thought I was trippin’ out on drugs because I kept compulsively scratching and itching, squirming and lifting up clothing articles to make sure there was no bugs in my skin. Elgh!

Yet! Here is some interesting facts about ticks you probably NEVER wanted to know!

Did you know?

Ticks find their “hosts” simply by detecting their odor, body heat or vibrations. Therefore, they pick well used paths where they know animals commonly travel. When an animal walks by, they do not jump or fly to clasp to the animal, but instead they do this thing called questing. When a tick quests, they first climb up to the very top of a blade of grass. Because the tick has four pairs of legs, it grabs on to the blade of grass with it’s third and fourth pair and then with its first pair of legs outstretched, it literally waits for for a “host” to brush by it so it can CLING to it! Ticks like to hide in dark places- places that they can hide and not be found. Therefore, they usually hide in the ears.

**Be advised, this gets a little nasty.**

Then. Once the tick grabs onto the fur they insert a feeding tube. Yeah. A FEEDING TUBE. Then, they secrete this concrete type stuff that keeps them attached as they ‘feed’. Lastly, they give off this “anesthetic” fluid stuff that makes it to where the animal can’t feel that the tick is there. They survive by the blood of another, and they die by being fully uprooted from the skin.

Those SNEAKY little turds. They are so disgustingly…clever.

Weird, I know. However, the more I read about how these tricksters find their victims, how they survive, and how they die–I began to realize the strikingly similar tactics that we all fall prey to, without even being aware of it.

I realized that the anatomy and function of a tick, is a lot like the anatomy and function of sin.

Think about it. Satan knows our biggest weaknesses and temptations. He knows those paths we unfortunately tend to drift towards when we fall into temptation. And HELLO! There he is waiting, arms outstretched, prowling around like a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Sin is always crouching at the door looking for prey, someone to cling to–someone to master.  And once a sinful habit attaches itself, it starts to suck the life out of ya. But, it doesn’t do it in plain sight- no. Like ticks, the quickest and fastest growing sins are well hidden and out of sight. So nobody sees, nobody knows and light can’t expose it.

Sin loves to hide. Which makes us hide- from God, from His Word, from the people that love us the most. Hiding makes you lonely. And loneliness is the best place for sinful habits to keep feeding and  festering and inviting their friends because there isn’t anyone to point out what they see. No one to keep you accountable.

There are some sins that are PLAIN as day and everyone can see the manifestations of it. But then there are the ‘secret’ sins that we like to ignore and pretend they aren’t there. They keep us in the dark. Then, the guilt and shame that come with sinful behavior creates that same ‘anesthetic’ that makes us turn a blind eye to the very thing that destroys us. The sin keeps sucking and we’re left wondering, “Why do I feel so empty? Why do I feel so lifeless?”

And! Isn’t it a coincidence that ticks love to hide in the ears? Isn’t that the same with sin? We hear a lie, we believe a lie. We keep hearing that lie over and over instead of the voice of the Savior. That still small voice becomes so muffled between all the itching and scratching of trying to shoo those lies away.

No wonder these ticks hack me off– I’m sure the Good Lord feels the same way when we walk through those tick ridden paths with eyes wandering making sure no one sees. As time goes on we get tangled up, wrapped up in so many snares that we’re itching, scratching and rolling around in the dirt trying to relieve the itch and heal ourself.

The same ridiculous look that dogs have when they’re pawing at their ears, biting themselves, rolling around on the floor trying to remove the ticks is the same way we look when we think that we can handle, heal and “fix” ourselves by ‘scratching’ hard enough to remove the stain of our sin. In this ‘Do It Yourself’ day and age, it is incredibly difficult to take our hands OFF and let God fix us. Yet, in Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul writes such a beautiful truth that ushers us to release our control and let God:

 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

One night, I had just finished bathing Tiller and again, I found dozens of ticks all in his ears. One by one I picked them out of his fur and he kept whimpering, squirming and trying to scratch his own ears. I’m thinking to myself “Tiller! I promise I’m not trying to hurt you but you can’t get them out by yourself! I’m the one with the tweezers and I’m the only one that can do it RIGHT!”

As I realized this, my face just twisted thinking about how I so many times am this puppy in God’s hands with attachments, strongholds and hang ups that I can’t seem to scratch hard enough to remove and yet, the more i scratch, the deeper they burrow. The more I hurt. The longer I suffer. The more sin reproduces itself and covers more areas of my heart. Yet, here I am hindering my own healing by squirming in the arms of the Savior refusing to let him set me free because I’m ashamed. I’m guilt ridden and by golly, I can fix this because I got myself into this!

The antidote, the only antidote for sin, is outside intervention from the only One who can truly remove, uproot and set us free from hiding. The One with the cleansing blood of sacrifice and the tweezers that uproot the weeds of bitterness that burrow deep. As Martin Luther King Jr. puts it, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.”

Let Him in. Let Him heal. Let go.

Lessons learned from a tick infested puppy.

(Who is now tick free… and definitely doesn’t fit in Lance’s shoe anymore.)

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