Friday, September 11, 2015

Leashes and Grace {a breathe post}


There is nothing like the abundance of energy contained within an 8 month old chocolate lab puppy.  I'd make millions if I could figure out how to capture it, contain it and convert it to electricity!  Talk about a {mostly} clean energy source....and for sure a fun one!  My knowledge of all this comes first hand from a couple of weeks ago when I started walking the perpetual motion machine called Ellie.  She belongs to some friends of ours who have 2 little humans, in addition to her, at home and as such, it is difficult to steer a stroller and a hyperactive pup at the same time.

I had been walking about 4 miles each day up in the back country trails near our house when my husband mentioned something about the safety of walking alone.  Though I feel completely safe, I figured the sight of a dog at my side might make me look more menacing and thus a walking bi-ped and quadru-ped formed an unlikely relationship.  Our six legs amble up and down the hills and trails - all seeking exercise - 4 to let out energy and 2 to gain muscle (OK...to look good in shorts!)

Ellie is a beautiful puppy.  She comes almost to the top of my thigh.  She is the color of the yummiest piece of dark chocolate and she is sleek and lean.  Every time I am with her, all I want to do is take off her leash and let her run!!  I imagine her being an incredible hunting dog, in fullness of joy when allowed, unhindered, to run after a rabbit or birds.  Oh yes...she was made to run...but not before all that running power is tempered by discipline.  For left unchecked and "free" she would most likely run to her death.

See, Ellie is curious about everything!  A grasshopper, a butterfly, a new smell, a rustle in the leaves...a squirrel!  All these distract her from the path we are on and take her attention away from me (as the one who is in charge of taking care of her).  Left to herself, she'd run off in a thousand different directions before she'd ever look back for me.


And I got to wondering the other day (OK...I was totally convicted), that my heart is quite similar to Ellie.  It is curious about every little thing and can get so distracted that it finds itself far from its Master.  My mind, its twin sister, has the same temperament. Beginning to pray or meditate, a moment later it's singing a jingle from a commercial it hasn't seen since the 70's and a moment later wondering what we should have for dinner, then....oh, look at that butterfly!  (You get it, right?)  When it finally stops the frenzy, it only vaguely remembers the intention to pray as it sees a lone Figure left far behind.

In the context of that reality, the hindrance of the leash I hold in my hand is actually an unlikely grace.  That leash, in one regard, is holding Ellie back from "being all she can be"; it's keeping her from her passions.  But it is also keeping her safe, keeping her from getting lost, keeping her from those passions that would kill her, and teaching her to look back, each time she feels its tug, at the one who holds the leash.  Because the one who holds the leash has her best in mind, even when she is simply blinded by her energy.

So on our walk the other day, I began to wonder about "God's leash" on my heart and mind (and if I'm honest, on my plans).  One part of me - the part that believes all the popular rhetoric of following my passions and self-actualizing - finds the thought of a leash offensive and repulsive.  Does God really want to hold me back?  Doesn't He want my freedom?  

And then a small phrase from a hymn washed over me until its quietness shattered the cacophony of questions raging in me:

Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Oh yeah....I must remember God's goodness is a leash for my heart and mind.  When I can't chase after what I want and life feels hindered and unfair, I must remember the Hand that holds the leash is GOOD.  When freedom is unreachable because it would harm or kill me (whether I know it or not), I must remember, the Hand that holds the leash is GOOD.  

And the leash itself is a goodness, especially when I am simply blind in my pent up energy and impulses...just like Ellie.  Like her, I need to learn to look at the One I walk with, not just chase after whatever moves.  Only then, might I be able to run free...because freedom means always listening for the Master.  See, unfettered and free is only good if we've first learned to listen to the Voice that call us back.  Until then, the leash is more grace and goodness than we've ever imagined.


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