I am no dog trainer. I’m not sure I’m even a dog lover. Actually, I’m more of a cat person. But for the past month, I have been caring for my furry grand-dog while my son was out of town. We have worked on his manners and not jumping on people when they come to visit, we have played numerous games of catch, we have developed some patience and restraint at feeding time, we have practiced “sit” and “shake” and “down” on many occasions, and we have enjoyed long walks together in the beautiful countryside.
Well, not exactly. We have done all of those things, but the long walks are not always the most enjoyable. I like the idea of starting my day with a brisk morning walk with the pooch by my side, or to savor the cool evening air together with a stroll down the gravel road, but in reality, the dog is the one going for a walk and I’m getting pulled along behind.
I have tried to be patient and consistent with my commands and expectations. I have combed through Pinterest for tips and tricks. I have employed the assistance of a choke chain, a pronged collar, and a shock collar; all with minimal success. The shock collar actually glitched on our walk last week which resulted in a yelping and very submissive dog… for about ten seconds. Then, the pulling resumed.
Our walks are a continuous cycle of me saying “walk”, giving a jerk on the leash, and tapping the button on the shock collar. The dog slows his pace for a few yards until he’s at the end of his leash and pulling me down the road again and the cycle repeats. At least the longer we walk the more compliant the hound becomes and by the time we turn around and head for home he is maintaining a mostly steady pace, but each walk begins with the same struggle.
“I would think by now that you would have figured this out.” Those are the words I spoke to the dog this morning, and the exact same words that the Holy Spirit echoed in my mind. Immediately, it felt like a choke chain around my neck and I wanted to yelp my protest. But in all honesty, I’m a lot like this dog.
I get excited about walking with the Lord and being with my Master, but I’m often not satisfied with his pace. I am sometimes oblivious to everything that God has planned for our walk together. Like the canine in my care, I want to put my nose to the ground and take off running. I want to be productive and get things done. I want to pull away and do things my way. But God says “walk”.
It’s a recurring theme in the Bible. Walking with the Lord seems to coincide with a close relationship with him. We are given examples like Enoch and Noah who “walked faithfully with God” and David who was said to have walked before God in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart. The Bible doesn’t tell us to run around in circles, to strive, or hustle, or pull. God uses words like come… follow… rest… sit… stay… walk. Some of us are slower learners than others. The Israelites wandered in circles in the wilderness for 40 years before God considered them ready to walk in a different direction. I can relate. Sometimes I need to get worn down before I start paying attention. Sometimes I need a spiritual shock collar.
The cool thing is, that God promises to walk with us. The Master of the Universe walking with a rebellious walking partner like me. Wow. May we heed the words of Joshua, “Be very careful to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)
Who wants to go for a walk?