Monday, December 10, 2007

I Am The Dog

This afternoon was my first foray into outdoor running. Yes, it’s December. Yes, it gets dark at 5:00 PM here. And, yes, it’s hovering around 35 degrees. But, I was cooped up all day and thought I would give it a try. Actually, I was planning to just take a brisk walk to give my legs a bit of a rest. As we rounded the corner at the end of the block, though, clear, even sidewalks beckoned me to give them a good lashing with my feet. My lungs were practically begging me to force the cold, crisp air deeper into them. So, off we went. We? Oh, yeah. Me and the dog.

We have a mutt for a dog, Elvis. His talents include barking, eating, pooping, and scaring anyone and everyone who dares to cast a sideways glance in his general direction. He’s actually pretty tame with our family, but the yard is his turf and he protects it with vengeance. When I decided to go for what I thought would be a walk, I knew it would be hard to just jet past him. He knows what it means when he sees us take off down the alley—we’re going somewhere and he’s not. I took pity on him and grabbed his leash as I cranked up my music. Upon site of the beloved leash, he broke out into his doggy smile. He started prancing around the yard, running back and forth between me and the gate. I was going somewhere and he was going with me.

Elvis is a strong, muscular dog. He weighs close to 55 pounds, so he can be a handful. He knows the leash means he gets to go somewhere, but getting him to mind the leash…well, that’s a life long battle for him. It’s a love-hate relationship: he loves to walk; hates to be told where to walk. As soon as I started running, I knew bringing Elvis might cause some problems. He was all over the place; sniffing this bush, licking that snow drift, running back and for across the sidewalk in front of me. He “did his business” several times along the way, forcing me to break my rhythm each time and wait for him. At one point, I jerked on his leash and got down in his face and said, “Listen, dog! We need to come to an understanding. You are running with me. I am not chasing after you. Pick a side and stick to it!” He just gave me that doggy grin again and licked my face.

I ran to a nearby cemetery, thinking it might be easier to run the paths that wind through there. At least we wouldn’t be contending with other people, or “walking, talking snacks,” as Elvis thinks of them. Every headstone needed a good sniff and some were “baptized,” I’m sorry to say! As we turned to head for home, I found myself getting more and more frustrated. How was I supposed to pay attention to what I was doing while wrangling this beast all over the place? As we approached the street that leads to home, Elvis started to slow down. Apparently, he was getting over the newness of being outside his regular domain and was settling down next to me. “Great.” I thought, “Just as I’m ready to quit, he decides to behave.” That’s the exact moment I heard this in my head:

You are the dog.

What? I am the dog? What does that mean? I started thinking about the past half hour and how my dog had been behaving. If it hadn’t been for some strong discipline, we would have surely ended up in the freezing creek or down a muddy embankment or crashing through the woods after some poor little rabbit. I am the dog?

Oh. I AM the dog.

I’m all over the place, spiritually speaking. If it weren’t for the leash of His Word and the Holy Spirit, as well as other believers placed strategically in my life, I too would be crashing through the woods, chasing after anything that looked enticing. I would be constantly wandering too close to the edge, slipping off into certain spiritual danger.

I’d like to think that I’m a bit more disciplined than my dog. I mean, sure, I still need a leash. I’m still tempted to go places I shouldn’t in my mind; to chase after goals that aren’t His; to wander around with people who won’t lead me any closer to Him. Hopefully, though, it only takes a gentle check of the leash to rein me back to the path. Hopefully, I’m growing to a place where He can trust me to just walk beside Him; always glancing to see where He is leading, striving to please Him. I’m not there, yet, but I hope that’s where I’m headed.

One more thing about my dog…and me, I think. When we got within sight of the house, his ears perked up and he gave me a longing look. I knew what he wanted. “Let’s go, boy,” I said and we raced up the street to the house. We both wanted the same thing: home. He wanted a drink. I wanted to wipe the sweat off my forehead and warm up my legs, but there was no need for me to tell him where we were going. He knew. The same is true for me. When my day comes, when heaven is within site, Jesus and I will be running together, racing towards the goal—eternity together.

Until then, though…I am the dog.


Ann said...

I am the dog too :) Hopefully I'm getting better leash trained, so Jesus has to only gently lead instead of pulling with his full body weight (I know I have these days!!)

Nina said...

Great story!

Jen said...

Nina, Here's your reply!! :) I'll try to do better with my comments!
Jen said...

Hahaha! You don't have to but it's nice sometimes to go back and forth with ideas or encouragement.

I do so much love your stories. There was one point in my life that I thought I would right a book -about my life in the past thinking that my testimony might help someone. I now think that the everyday revelations that God shows us in our everyday life is so much more inspiring. I may write my testimony but it would include lots of encouragement instead of dwelling on too much of the past. Your blog inspires me to see the things that I think I tend to miss or don't listen to. I am grateful for this stories and I do wish to have them in a book form some day. Until then, I will just have to print them out and put them in a cool folder or something! lol

Love ya!!!

Nikki said...

Well said.