Recently, after spending some time in prayer at a public park about a mile from my home, I took my dog Beatrice for a walk. We set out along the side walk that encircles the gazebo, playground, and tennis courts at a normal walking pace. My plan, was to continue praying while walking, but keeping up with my excitable puppy proved to be a task that didn’t bend much to multi-tasking.
Learning New Tricks
As of late, I have been trying to train her to match my pace and walk by my side so that we can enjoy leisurely strolls together without as much effort. But being the puppy that she is, she likes to bolt ahead of me to chase things or stop along the way, distracted by something she saw or smelled.
It was only a short walk around the park, but I must have said, “Stay with me!” to her some 500 times! Now don’t get me wrong; she’s a great dog, and this type of behavior is to be expected of any puppy. And knowing that she’s just a dog, I can’t possibly expect her to understand my purpose or the complex reasoning of the human mind.
She doesn’t know where I’m planning to take her, or how long it will take to get there, or the reason I chose this path. But that’s the point, she doesn’t need to know. I’m her master and that’s my job. Her job is to trust me and to stay with me along the way.
As I repeatedly tugged on her leash, guiding her back onto the right path each time she wandered off, God showed me how similar this scenario is to my walk with Him.
Wow. The bracing reality of my similar patterns with this simple minded puppy hit me like a brick wall. And as God showed me a picture of His perspective, it was humbling to say the least. Am I really this unfocused God?
Now I’m not saying that I’m a dog, but to make the comparison: I can’t possibly understand the complexity of God’s reasoning or His plan. Though He’s my friend, He is also my Lord and Master, and I am the one who needs to learn from Him.
Let me dig a little deeper.
Who’s Training Who?
Beatrice believed that she was the one training me. She felt that I just didn’t understand how important every new scent, every scurrying squirrel, and every cigarette butt she found along the way was. But, if she tugged hard enough and whimpered loudly enough, maybe I would understand how unfair I was being with her and alter my plan to give her control.
In reality, she didn’t need to train me at all. I needed to train her. She needed to learn to listen, to stay focused on the command I’d given her, and to walk at my pace, by my side.
A New Perspective
As I looked through this perspective at my own walk with God, I began to wonder how many times I wander off from God’s path, certain that I know better.
How many times do I get distracted by something I see along the way and chase after it?
How many times have I gotten tired and slowed, or stopped, when God wanted me to press on? (Here’s one I’m sure I’m guilty of) How many times have I assumed I knew the destination and ran ahead of God? Ouch.
You see, at least for myself, it’s easy to see when I watch it play out with my puppy, but not as easy when I’m in the midst of it. My heart is to walk at His pace, according to His plan, but I lose focus and begin to think that God is being unfair, or that He just doesn’t understand the best way to go, or that He should change His plan every time something interesting comes along the way and indulge my every distraction. But this isn’t God’s plan for my walk.
Through this picture, God is showing me that, like my walk with Beatrice, He needs to be in control, He sets the pace and the destination, and the point is not just to get to the end, but to learn to trust and walk with Him along the way.
And while I’m humbled, I’m so thankful that He has more patience than I ever will. And that while I’m demanding answers to current questions, or begging for deviations and short cuts, thinking I know best, He is lovingly but firmly guiding me back onto the path He set me on and whispering over and over again.