Jethro, my black lab, is half my weight but twice my strength. Walking him can be a difficult task especially when he’s being lured by a fresh or different scent. So it’s important to keep him under voice control.
In times of his enticement, he wants to leave my side to follow wherever his nose leads him like the other night when he kept trying to cross the street. Over and over again I had to stop, apply the brake on his leash, and say, “Go around,” to keep him out of the street and by my side.
Jethro knows what it means to “Go around.” He learned it the hard way.
Being a head-strong dog, he would often sniff his way to the far side of a tree or mailbox, get his leash wrapped around it trying to free himself, then look to me to get him untangled.
In order to enjoy an otherwise peaceful walk with Jethro, I taught him how to backtrack and get himself out of his own mess by applying the brake to stop his forward progress and saying, “Go around.”
Now I can use the same command to prevent him from following his nose to the far side of an obstacle in the first place. But on this particular evening our walk was a constant struggle–a battle of wills. Jethro’s will versus my will for him.
He wanted to walk on the side of the street where there were lots of new smells to investigate at a house that’s being renovated. His enthusiasm to explore far outweighed any possible concern for dropped tacks, nails, and other sharp objects in the yard that could hurt him.
Our twenty minute walk was a constant herky-jerky stop and go. He waited while I took two steps forward then tried to sneak behind me to cross the street. I’d stop, brake the leash, say, “Go around,” and wait for him to come back to my side before resuming our walk.
After we had gone through that routine numerous times, I wondered how God puts up with me during those times when I’m as stubborn, strong-willed, and prone to wander as Jethro is.
Jethro’s struggle also mimics the universal one–the desire to control our own destiny, to go our own way, and to do our own thing in our own time.
But the thing is, we don’t often know what’s best for us. We don’t see the big picture, so we make poor decisions. We go where we shouldn’t go; say what we shouldn’t say; and do what we shouldn’t do.
Struggling against God’s will for us is a struggle we tend to repeat. But God is good. His patience with us exceeds our patience with our circumstances. His love for us exceeds our love for ourselves. His grace is greater than all our sins and wrongdoing. His mercies are new every time we need His forgiveness. And if that weren’t enough, His gift of the Holy Spirit guides us with a loving yet convicting voice that prevents us from wandering too far from His side if we only listen.
Just like Jethro’s hearing me say, “Go around,” prevents Him from getting hurt or in trouble, our listening to and heeding our Master’s voice prevents us from getting hurt or in trouble, too. That’s why it’s important that we stay under the Master’s voice control.
I’m listening. Are you?