Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Dog Jogger--Learning to Follow A Lead

We've been enjoying unseasonably warm weather here; so warm in fact, that I chose to run outside the other day. I "suited up" in my favorite sweats, comfy socks, shoes, and my trusty mP3 player. I knew I couldn't escape the house without the dog, as he seemed to recognize my running gear. He pranced around as usual as I wrestled his leash around his neck and we headed out into the spring-like, January air.

As usual, Elvis was all over the place. First he tried running at full speed. At 50+ pounds, I had to use my body as a counter-weight as he practically pulled me down the sidewalk. Then, as I began to slowly jog, he began running from one side of the walk to the other, criss-crossing in front of me. Every few feet I had to dodge him or the leash or some giant mud puddle he was traipsing through. After my last few experiences with dog jogging (read about one of them here), I figured Elvis would settle down after 10-15 minutes. Not so on this day. After 20 minutes, 2 tripping episodes, a close encounter with another unleashed dog, and several bruises to my body, I decided it was time to take the dog home.

As we walked home, this time with the leash wrapped around my waist and the dog forced to walk beside me instead of in front, I thought about how undisciplined he seemed. It's like each time we go out, it's his very first leashed walk; the very first time he's ever been around other human beings; the very first time he's seen the world. It seems that each time I run with my dog, the Lord uses that experience to show me something about Himself and about me. Okay, show me, Lord. I know there's something You want me to see.

As we reached home, I turned Elvis loose in the yard and then hung his leash on the gate. I sensed that the Lord wanted more time with me. Trying to ignore my dog's sad eyes, I turned and headed back out for another attempt at a good run. I kept thinking about how crazy my dog acts whenever we leave the yard. He's so out of control. I definitely need to spend more time with him and teach him how to behave! It's either that, or I'm just not going to run with him anymore.

Yes, daughter, you need to spend more time with Me. You are out of control. If I'm ever going to be able to use you, you will have to learn how to follow My lead. You aren't going to learn how to follow by watching someone else do it, reading a book, watching a video, thinking about it, or any other way you can come up with. You have to spend time with Me.

Ouch. That stings. Don't I already spend time with You, Lord? What do You mean by saying I'm out of control?

Do you really want Me to bring up all the ways in which you are not fully allowing me to take care of you? You can't run long enough for Me to list them.

Good point. Sorry.
It's just that I thought we were good.

We are. I love You. I love the time we've been spending together. But, I have more for you. There are places I want to show you and things I have planned for you that require much greater discipline. You enjoy running with Me, but you still like to pull at the leash and wander around the path. I need you to learn to run right beside Me. I need you to become sensitive to the slightest tug of the leash. You aren't there yet.

That sounds like a lot of work. I'm not so good at following directions and being patient.

I know.

So, what do I do?

Nothing. Let Me do the work. Just come hang out with Me. Meet Me in the Word. Talk to Me before you open your eyes in the morning. Look for Me to show up through the day. Let Me have all of you and I'll take care of the rest.

I don't like change.

I know that, too.

What if I'm too afraid to let You change me?

I will still love you if you never learn to follow My lead better. My love for you will never change. But, I won't be able to take you with Me to some amazing places because it would be too dangerous and difficult for you.

I don't like missing out on things.

I know.


Okay, what?

You know what I'm going to say.

I do.

I'm ready to be made ready.

I know. And, now you do, too.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank You, God, for speaking to my heart. Thank You for working into me increased sensitivity to what You want to do with me. I do want to be ready for You. Discipline me...I know that is a sign of Your great love for me and evidence that You have not forsaken me. Make me an instrument of Your peace and love and grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


sandita said...

This is great!!!
I love the insights and the way you share your talk with God...I can so put myself in that spot. Dogs are such a great tool for teaching patience! Baxter has taught me more that I ever knew i needed to learn:)!!!

May God Keep you close and continue to lead you on some great "Jogs of Life!"
Love ya!

9-ah said...

Beautiful words and much needed to hear. I am going to read Hebrews now. Friday night bible study which I affectionately call FNBS, is in Hebrews and yes chapter 12.

JAN said...

Jen, this was so good. Surrender is something I've wrestled with my whole life. I want to be in control and then I constantly run all over the place knowing I am really out of control.
Thanks for sharing this.