We left the house to do our usual routine of dropping the kids at school and then Jack & I headed out for our long morning walk. Jack is a smallish dog, a mix between a dachshund and a pit-terrier. He always gets excited when we first come out of the house, and he happily walks along side me, holding his leash in his mouth and jumping excitedly around with a big grin. He doesn’t care that he is not free to roam and run up and down the street at will. After we drop off the kids we pick up the pace and by this time, Jack is ready to go full speed ahead. He likes to stay out in front of me, pulling as hard as he can get away with on the leash, swerving back and forth and sometimes abruptly stopping to sniff the roses. I have to reel him in and make the leash short to control his erratic behavior. During this part he will refuse to look at me, even if I stop, so when I do he is unprepared and gets a little jerk because he wasn’t paying attention. After about a mile of refusing to look at me while he pulls as hard as he can on the short leash, choking himself, he starts to ease up. By the time we are home he is walking in stride with me, head high and ears back, listening for what I will do next.
I found myself telling Jack what a silly dog he is, “Why won’t you just look at me and then you will know what I want you to do!?” And then I realized that my life resembles exactly what Jack does to me each day – only I do this to God.
As a new Christian I was so excited. Each day I would joyfully find a sermon to listen to, or read my Bible, or do something to show the world how happy and wonderful everything was. Just like Jack I wanted to grab the new life in my hands and prance around letting the world see my inescapable joy to be free from the house of sin. Even then I realized that there was indeed a leash, that I was not my own, but I was happy and didn’t pay attention to what I was supposed to be doing.. I just knew I was with my Master, and we were going somewhere, and it made me overjoyed. “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:20-23
I very quickly realized that there were things I wanted to do as I was walking with the Lord. Just like Jack wants to roll in some nasty dead thing, I also wanted to go back to my former filth on occasion. But Jack can only get as far away as I let him, and he can only roll in the thing until I tug at him that it is time to move on. It’s not that I would ever escape the salvation I had in Christ, just like Jack would never escape being on the leash (and even if he did get free he would come right back because he knows who feeds him), but I had to learn how to balance the desires of my flesh with the intentionality of maintaining my part of the relationship. I am still learning this… in fact, I don’t think any of us will ever have this part completely in check until we go to our Master’s house and curl up on the couch. “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:21-25
Just as I lead Jack down the path that I want to travel, God is leading me. He has plans for me, and I want to go with Him and find out what they are. Sometimes I get ahead of Him and try to do it myself – this is when I swerve blindly back and forth, trying to make my own way while scarcely being able to breath from the weight of bearing the burden. God’s not going to let me blaze out before Him and fling myself into the mud (though I think that’s where I want to be). No, instead He gently tugs on the leash, slowly reigning me back in to the safe place of being right next to Him. This is where I currently find myself. I am on a short leash, in stride with my Master, going along with Him at His speed. He is the leader, and though sometimes I fling myself ahead, He always puts me in check and brings me back to His side. This is the best place to be, but sometimes I have trouble paying attention to where His feet are, and I stop listening for His commands, and I stop looking up for eye contact to make sure I am approved.
And then I find myself telling myself, “Why won’t you just look at Him and then you will know what He wants you to do!?”
You see, I know that I belong to God. And I know that I will go wherever He wants me to go, whether that is my plan or not… and so I become complacent and my brain leaves my body in robot mode – going thru the motions with no lights on at home. But this is not where God wants me to be. He wants my eye contact. It is not enough to know where His feet are, or to listen to His commands.. I have to look Him in the eye – deep in the eye – and understand that He is more powerful than me. I am not the one in control though I often feel empowered. “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” – 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
He is the leader. He is the strong one. He makes the best decisions for me even when He allows me to roll in the dead things. He can make me stop everything and wait as long as He wants until we move again. He is the one who feeds me, and gives me good gifts. He is the one who cleans me and washes away the filth I love. He is the one who adopted me, chose me from all the other dogs for no reason at all other than it was His good and pleasing desire. He paid for me… and He loves me.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:1-2