Kind of Like Walking a Dog
This evening as I was walking my parent’s dog Daisy (the sweetest, softest, fluffiest, awesomest dog ever) I caught a little revelation.
I’ve been walking her since I returned from Mozambique, something I don’t usually do very often. The more I walk her, the more she comes to understand how I like her to behave. The first couple times I walked her, she was pulling on the leash and darting after all kinds of things. It would take some pretty sharp tugs and stern verbal commands to get her back in line. This evening though, she started getting a feel for how I wanted her to walk. I like her to walk next to me, her front shoulders about parallel with my body and no tugging on the leash.
Correcting her took a different form. Instead of sharp tugs and stern commands, I could pull gently on the leash. Instead of stern commands, she responded to soft words.
As we walk with Jesus, we usually begin pretty thick headed. We pull hard in whatever direction we’re used to moving in, and we don’t often respond much less recognize his whispers. Yet, as we continue in our relationship with him we learn to respond to these tugs. We get closer and closer to the place where all he has to do is whisper and we realize we’re no longer by his side, but pulling ahead of him, gentle as it may be. As this relationship grows, we begin to notice when we’re not walking beside Jesus—we know what it feels like to be near him, and when we’re not near him it feels strange.
When we began, we could pull and tug in our own direction and he didn’t worry about trying to keep us right beside him, but as the relationship continues we lose the desire to run ahead and find ourselves open to soft subtle direction from Holy Spirit.
For example: Before, beating your wife brought conviction, whereas now a harsh word spoken to her is enough to bring that same conviction, to the point where the unspoken attitude of heart is enough to bring conviction.
God yanking our chain might sound restricting and a bit unfair.
“…the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”
Proverbs 3:12 NLT
The child who gets to do whatever it wants may seem to be better off, but it’s the child who is disciplined who is really loved. Love always cares for the individual, even if it comes at a cost of disappointment and pain.
During my 3rd year at The Citadel I was a drill sergeant. Best job I had at the school. I got to mold and shape young men and women. I got to teach them how to function within the Corps of Cadets, as well as monitor their behavior. The ones who always gave me the biggest thanks at the end of the year, when we finally started treating them like humans, were the ones I was the toughest on. When they realized I wasn’t punishing them for my pleasure, but with their growth in mind, they began to respect me.
Obviously, this illustration has its limits. I also happen to think that in some ways God wants us to break free of the leashes that hold us, but that’s a different illustration altogether. Still, I find it interesting that as our relationship grows with Jesus, we become more sensitive to him. He no longer has to get our attention by tugging at us so much as we begin to give him our attention because we want to be with him.