© 2014 Lynn Abbott.
Puppies hate leashes. I know that because just over a year ago I brought home a beautiful, chocolate-colored, Labradoodle puppy: Bentley. Determined to start things off right, I put a leash on him as soon as I arrived home and then, I gently lifted him from the Jeep. My plan was to introduce him to his new outdoor space.
He balked. He pulled. He scratched at the leash. He bit it. He tried to run from it. Of course, he didn’t know that an unfenced garden near a major rural road posed a grave danger to an 8 1/2 week old pup. For a puppy, that busy road personified death and destruction.
After a few weeks, he learned to tolerate the leash. However, on our daily walks, his pulling would periodically emerge. In fact, I could pretty much predict that he would pull when I announced to him that we were going home. With my happy declaration, Bentley suddenly transformed into a horse. And he hurried to the proverbial barn.
Not surprisingly, he looked for the shortest distance between two points. It didn’t matter to Bentley whether that meant plunging through poison ivy, briar patches, neighbor’s yards, or marshy patches.
He knew where he wanted to be and he was determined to find the shortest possible–albeit perilous–path to his beloved destination. Without regard to consequences, Bentley ran ahead. All too often, I found myself gently reminding him to “Follow me.”
At times like these, a leash is a good thing. Actually, I prefer to call the necessary tether by the British term– “lead.” With the lead, I can direct Bentley and protect him. He may want to go his own way, but as his “master,” I see what he cannot.
I smile when I stop to think about it. How much like Bentley I can be! The Master has promised me, “‘I know the plans I have for you… Plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope,'” (Jeremiah 29:11).
But I run ahead. I believe I know precisely the most direct way to get to this wonderful, promised destination. No waiting. Why bother with the “future” bit? I know a supreme shortcut.
“Let’s go,” my heart cries. And in my impetuous enthusiasm I run ahead of the Master. I yank and pull, all the while careening into walls, briar patches and oncoming traffic. Obviously, I can’t foresee the danger. Only Abba knows what lies around the bend.
Yet, much to my chagrin, I must admit to you that in my excited impatience, I become deaf to the Master’s call, “Follow me.” As a result, I spend a lot of time licking my wounds and spewing all kinds of abuse against the obstacles.
God must simply smile. He sees the entire landscape of my life and knows the best path from here to there, and to borrow a Tolkien phrase,”there and back again.” Were it not for God’s loving Lead, I would continually run headstrong into brambles, thorns … I would wander off His path, and fail to arrive safely at the glorious destination.
Indeed, while God’s light touch allows me tremendous freedom to explore, His Lead will not allow me to wander far off His path. When I plunge headlong, He gently corrects my course, and Grace whispers, “Follow Me.”
Of course, follow I must. He holds my life in His gracious grip. “Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, And laid Thy hand upon me…Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?” David writes in Psalm 139. Yes, Grace guides me in spite of myself.
Even so, I’m sorry to say that I do grumble sometimes. After all, the Master’s way seems long and often difficult. And I long for a shortcut.
Christ understands. In fact, scripture tells us that he was tempted in all way like we are, yet He was without sin, (Hebrews 4:15-16). The enemy, of course, knew what he was doing. And in the desert, he offered the Son of God a shortcut. In fact, Satan offered Christ a bypass; Christ could skip the cross, and go straight to kingship.
The only catch was that Christ must bow down and worship Satan. Some shortcut, right? But that’s the way it is. The Devil’s detours are dangerous. Satan’s shortcuts invariably tempt us to pursue short-sighted ways rather than to respond to Christ’s call, “Follow me.” Satan seduces with the easy path, the path that leads to death and ultimate destruction.
Of course, in Gethsemane, Christ chose the “yet not my will but Thine be done,” (Luke 22:42). He resisted the detour and followed His Father’s Lead, setting the example for me. On the surface, Abba’s plan appeared a disastrous path.
God’s love and grace, however, overcame death; Abba’s road led to resurrected life and glory. And through Christ, you and I dodged death’s detour.
Uh, huh. That’s right. I can’t see what lies ahead, and I don’t know the best path. God’s way doesn’t always initially make sense to me.
Fortunately, for me–Abba’s adopted, and all-too-often-wayward child–He graciously protects me when I pull and strain. And step-by-step, He gently leads me to my beloved destination, His beautifully designed future and hope.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand…”~ John 10: 27-29
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness,” ~Hebrews 12:11
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, no principalities, nor things present, or things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” ~Romans 8:38-39.
“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are those who long for Him,”~ Isaiah 30:18