Monday, November 13, 2017

Dog walks and God walks


"Hey, I've got a question for you," the stranger yelled from his car. Being the only human in sight I assumed he was directing his line of questioning at me.
"Sure, what's your question?"I hollered back from the sidewalk.
"Does the one always walk on your left and the other one on your right?"
I looked down first to my left, then to my right. Then I looked back up and answered the strangers odd inquiry, "Yes, Pippy always walks on my left. Molly always on my right." I never instituted this walking arrangement. Years ago the dogs naturally fell into this pattern and they've stuck to it ever since with a resolve that is far more stubborn than it is submissive.
The friendly driver just laughed. "I thought so. Even dogs get stuck in their patterns. You should switch it up on them."
And with that he drove of.
The stranger's suggestion troubled me. Wouldn't changing their comfortable routine be cruel and unusual and altogether unnecessary? Why would I want to disrupt their walking harmony? What did I have to gain by confusing their comfortable routine?
The stranger's suggestion sounded like a mean trick until I considered the road and all of its dangers. Big trucks and speeding cars were a threat to my little stubborn schnoodles. Even when a car come far too close on the left Pippy refuses to move to the right. When traffic comes up near the right I always have to yank Molly's leash, forcing her to comply with my command to move out of harm's way. I know it can't be pleasant for them to be pulled on and tugged but I do it for their safety and their protection. I do it because they aren't trusting and obeying.
The truth is Pippy and Molly aren't truly obedient walkers. They are only obedient and compliant when they are each on their own designated side. They would rather walk in harms way than change their ways.
Considering my dog's faux obedience I began to see the flaw in my "cruelty free" logic.
To disrupt Pippy and Molly of their patterns wouldn't be a trick played for my own twisted amusement. It would be a way to train them up to be obedient. Breaking them of their routine would make them more malleable and flexible in all circumstances, leading to safer walks. By becoming true followers, naturally trusting and obeying my every command, my pups would enjoy the fullness of my protection and walk peacefully in the shield of my love.
It didn't take but a few steps further down the sidewalk before God began to tug on the leash of my heart. As if He were calling out from a nearby car window I could hear Him ask, "Do you always walk on that side?"
Ashamed at the reality of my own faux obedience, I had to admit that I am prone to patterns and absolutely stuck in my routine. I'm a rigid follower, trapped in my own ways. I'm downright habitual about my habits. With a stubbornness more powerful than the weight of two schnoodles tugging on their leashes, I protest when God forces me to change my walking pattern. 
The way I've been walking hasn't been the way of true obedience. I've been stubbornly pulling on the leash, robbing me of the true peace that comes from full faith and trust in the protection of God. By demanding I follow my own way I have denied myself the rest and joy that comes from unwavering obedience. I've put myself in harms way and exposed myself to unnecessary danger. From my stubborn end of the leash I have foolishly denied myself the fullness of God's safety and love.
But thanks be to God that old dogs can learn new tricks. And so can forgiven sinners.
Today, right here and right now, I can choose to change the way I walk. By following God's voice and trusting completely in His will, no matter where it leads, I can become a truly obedient child of God. When I fully surrender my will to walk my way I will enter into the true protection and lasting peace of God's safety and serenity. It is only by releasing my routine and abandoning my patterns at the foot of Christ's cross that I am truly obedient.
From the voice of a stranger and the grace of my Savior, now I can see that on both dog walks and God walks flexible, malleable, unwavering obedience is key to safely enjoying the journey.

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