I love dogs — I’m pretty sure we’ve established that. And I would even go so far as to argue I know them pretty well, though I’m certainly no dog whisperer. In all my years of walking dogs, I had never before heard (or considered) a valuable tip I learned today at church.
Yes, I said at church. Stay with me here.
Today’s lesson was another from Nehemiah — we’ve spent several weeks in that book. Specifically, it was on Nehemiah Chapter 9, in which the Israelites confess their sins and offer a prayer that summarizes much of the Old Testament and the relationship between God and His chosen people. The repeated cycle of them pulling away from Him and losing their way, then turning back to Him and remembering that He is the one who keeps His covenant. He is the one who is faithful.
The pastor offered an analogy involving their family dog — though not a large dog, she tended to pull on her leash when walked. (In other words, she walked her people, rather than the other way around. And yes, this has too often been my own experience when walking dogs, particularly at the outset, before they’re tired.) Eventually, a trainer taught them this trick — whenever the dog starts to pull, turn and walk the opposite direction. Before too long, the dog will figure out that if it wishes to progress on its walk, it will need to heel. The dog will then follow your lead. (Why did I not ever know this?! I feel like such a dolt!)
Such a fitting analogy for our relationship with God. What happens when we become stiff-necked and strain against Him? We lose our way; we fail to progress. Yet, when we place our faith in Him and follow His lead, we walk forward, by His side.
It’s such a simple lesson, but one with which I constantly struggle. And I know I’m far from alone in that. Of course, it took a dog analogy to get it to sink into my thick skull. (Fitting, I suppose.)
I’ve cued up the video to the point where the pastor relates the dog analogy, but I invite you to enjoy the entire service. Happy Sunday!