Trying to train a new dog how to walk with me on a leash this week. This isn’t my first time, but I haven’t had any professional training, so it doesn’t always go so well. Last time, I had a really big dog that could pull me around. He wasn’t the one who got trained.
This time, I’m smarter. The dog is small, and I put on a few extra pounds for just this occasion. I’m ready. Of course, I couldn’t actually find the leash when I needed it, so I led the dog through my neighborhood at the end of a luggage strap. It worked, and it gave the neighborhood security guards something to smile about.
But even with a small dog, this was no easy matter. He tugged and he strained and he whimpered and he barked. He got excited at one point and started to dash after another dog, but when he got to the end of the leash, it popped him up in the air, and he did a Matrix-like 360 degree martial arts move.
It didn’t help that the neighbor’s dog decided to tag along – sans leash. She could go where she wanted, poop where she wanted, bark at who she wanted. But my very sad dog had to stay close to me. It was a frustrating experience for him, and it made me think of how I feel sometimes as a Christian.
Please tell me I’m not the only one. Doesn’t it feel like you’re on a leash sometimes? Like you can’t do the things that other people do, can’t watch the things that other people watch, can’t bark at the guy who took your parking space at the grocery store. I spend a good deal of my time tugging at my leash, and whimpering about how it pinches.
But then I thought about my other dog – the one we don’t have anymore. He would run around the neighborhood and go wherever he wanted (partially because it’s the way dogs are handled here and partially because we couldn’t find a way to keep him fenced into our yard). I loved the dog, but he was a bit of an embarrassment to me, because he would run through other peoples’ yards, do his business there and sometimes even go out to the guardhouse to harrass the security guards with his barking.
Then one day, he just disappeared. We’ve heard that dogs who cause a nuisance are often fed poison in Thailand to get rid of them. I would be very sad if I heard that was what had happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I prefer to think that another family has taken him in, but I may never know.
Compare the two dogs. One is on a leash and fenced in, and the other roamed free, but the one on a leash still has a loving family and safety and a regular food supply. Sure, the leash and the fence are confining, but they are for his own good. They keep him out of trouble, and they let others know that he belongs to someone.
Christians are supposed to be on a leash or fenced in (though we sometimes jump the fence). We are required to honor the boundaries God set for us. They prevent us from roaming free and doing everything that we want to do, but that’s because God knows that what our sinful nature wants to do isn’t best for us. The sooner we learn to submit to the leash and walk side-by-side with our Lord, the sooner we will start to appreciate the incredible freedom there is even with these restrictions.
And truth be known, everyone is on a leash. If you’re not on God’s leash, you are on Satan’s. His has a lot more slack, so many think that they are completely free, but that’s just because he doesn’t want you to realize that he’s there. He will let you get into whatever kind of trouble you want. But when you start sniffing around God’s yard, he will give you a yank that will make you do one of those Matrix-like moves.
One word of caution: even Christians can run around in Satan’s yard. If you pull hard enough at your leash for a long enough period, God will let you go…for a time. He’ll never let Satan keep you or let you out of His sight, but He knows that some of us only learn how good we’ve got it when we’ve experienced how badly the other owner treats his pets.