Heb 12:1-3 “Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”
Today I had a memorable power walk with the Lord. I took our golden retriever, Salida, with me. She has a collar that can be either a normal collar or a choke chain, and she also has a retractable leash. It’s quite neat.
What is the purpose of all this? Very simple: to train our golden retriever to be obedient.
As I headed outside, the retractable leash was unlocked. In other words Salida had complete freedom to go as far as the leash would allow. But instead of enjoying this freedom, she took her leash in her mouth. She shook her head as she pulled it out. The walk was momentarily postponed. No ground could be gained like this. Salida soon found her leashed locked into a short position!
At last we could start on our walk. We were even heading in the right direction, and we covered a distance of approximately 50 meters. Then Salida became distracted — by a slobbering, barking, muddish looking creature of the dog species. Salida’s whole attention burned from being riveted onto our destination, to being riveted to this creature! Trying to get her attention back to our walk was a difficult task, believe me!
But we finally made it past the distraction, and we were headed forward at a good pace. I decided to reward her reluctant obedience and I gave her a stick. She accepted it proudly and pushed on ahead with it in her mouth. It was like she had completely forgotten I was there! After a while she got tired of it and dropped it all together.
At one point I looked at the dog and found her covered with mosquitoes. She didn’t seem to care, so I swatted them for her. She looked up at me, horrified! I knew she was wondering what terrible thing she had done to deserve a swat! After this, I had to watch her closely. She seemed to have no concept whatsoever of her danger. Without my swatting our golden retriever would have turned into a black lab! (Some people do like black retrievers, but that’s another story!)
Once while we were walking, Salida looked up at me. It was like she was talking to me, and she listened when I talked back. This was a highlight of our walk, and I was sad that it only happened once. I longed for more interaction with her! But instead, she stopped in her tracks and refused to go on. Obviously she had a different idea of how our walk should progress than I did! I was patient with her for several minutes. Then I switched the leash to the choke chain! She probably wondered why I did this. In fact, she probably thought I was being mean. After all, I put her on a short leash, make her go where I want to go, pull her away from other dogs, and now a choke chain! Why?
Is it any wonder I had broken out into a good sweat by the time we finally got home?
I see so much of us Christians in my golden retriever. God strives to develop an intimate relationship with us. His hearts beats faster when we look at Him and listen to Him, but the majority of the time we are distracted by other things. Our “barking creatures” are the activities of city life, a job, or even the activities of improving our home. None of these are bad in themselves, unless they keep us from looking towards our real destination. Just like the “slobbering, barking, muddish looking creature from the dog species” are not very attractive to us humans, some of our activities are far from attractive to our Heavenly Father.
Another distraction can be the ministry God gives us. Just like Salida running around with her stick in her mouth and then dropping it when she is tired of it, we may run around with our “task”, proud to have been found worthy, or we may just feel it is our Christian duty and completely ignore our divine guide. Is it any wonder so many quit their ministries?
How easy we complain for the circumstances of our life, wondering why God would permit such events. God’s goal though is for us to experience complete freedom, just like my goal with our golden retriever is to eventually be able to let her walk beside me without a leash at all. However I can’t do so until my dog develops a close relationship with me and learns how to handle her freedom with my help.
Often we don’t notice the real dangers that attach themselves in our lives. Just like mosquitoes that didn’t seem to bother Salida, little sins don’t seem to bother us and before we know it, these little sins are taking over our lives. The apostle Paul encourages us to have “No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.” Can you imagine a golden retriever covered by mosquitoes? Can you imagine a spiritual fat Christian covered with wormish sins (many parasites are worms!)? No wonder God swats at those. Why are we looking surprised when He does so?
Well, I am looking forward to be able to go for my walks with my dog without any leash at all! God is looking forward for the same thing with us. At what setting is your leash? Is it at retractable? Or maybe at fixed? Or worse at choke chain? Remember you can be completely free. The choice is yours. God is hungrily looking forward to have a close relationship with you!
John 8:36-37 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” NIV