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Walking the Dog

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a few hours watching some dogs (and their owners) on the beach. It was very interesting to see the different ways that they interacted. Some dogs frolicked and scampered all around, excited to be playing in the sand and waves. They chased balls as they were thrown and raced back to their owners eager to start the game again. Other dogs walked calmly beside their owners—-almost as if they were in stride. Still the dog that stood out the most to me was this one who had a mind of his own. He didn’t want to do anything his owner wanted him to do. He’d dig in his heels, refuse to listen, and even refuse to move when it was time to go. Eventually, the owner had to literally drag him off of the beach because he refused to pick up his legs and walk. (And this was no little pup—-he was leaving quite a path in the sand as the owner pulled him onto the path to go home.) As I watched their final exit, all I could think was “I don’t ever want to be like that dog.” (Okay, I know that may sound strange, but follow me for a moment.) The truth is that throughout my life I’ve seen a lot of people who walk with God just like this dog walked with his owner. Rather than following where God leads, they want their own way. Okay, forget “want” their own way, through their stubbornness, they almost demand their own way. Even though God is clearly trying to lead them in a direction, they refuse to follow, leaving God with no choice but to drag them along through difficult circumstances in their lives or allow them to disobey Him altogether. Either choice is simply heartbreaking. Both choices remind me of Lot in Genesis 19. The setting is familiar: God sent angels to Sodom to warn Lot and his family that the town was about to be destroyed. They were told, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” (Genesis 19:15 NLT) Only instead of gratefully listening to the warning, thankful to be saved, Lot has the strangest reaction: Verse 16 says “He hesitated.”

He didn’t want to go. He didn’t want to follow the direct commands of angels that would lead to his salvation. That’s when Lot’s story resembles that of my furry friend. “Lot was dragging his feet. The men grabbed Lot’s arm, and the arms of his wife and daughters—God was so merciful to them!—and dragged them to safety outside the city.” (16-17 the Message) Can’t you just imagine Lot and his family being drug out of the city just in time for their lives to be saved? (I wonder if they left a path of drag marks behind like the dog being drug off the beach?) Every time I read this story I have the same response that I had when I watched that poor man using all of his strength to get his dog to move: I do not want to be this way.

Never, ever, ever. Instead, when the Holy Spirit speaks a word of direction into my life, I want to follow it immediately. I want to trust that God knows best. That His plans are always perfect, and if He is leading me in a direction, then I want to follow it wholeheartedly without resistance. This is a choice that I believe each of us needs to make in our own lives—-because as Christians, every day the Holy Spirit wants to lead and guide us. The question is, “Do we want to follow?” As we follow, will it be willingly? Eagerly? With abandon? Or will we drag our feet creating as much resistance as possible hoping that God will change His mind and let us have our own way? 

That afternoon on the beach, I reaffirmed my commitment that I never want to be like Lot. I want to follow God with abandon. Today, in whatever circumstances the Holy Spirit is leading you, what choice will you make? Will you walk in stride with the Holy Spirit's will for your life or will you fight and resist? Take some time and think about it and then I hope you’ll make the same decision as I did and choose to lift your feet, walk with God, and follow Him wherever He wants you to go.


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