This past weekend, I went away to a lovely spot called Rangeley, Maine. Rangeley Lake is a peaceful yet breathtaking lake surrounded by mountains that seem to take off right out of the lake. There isn’t one view that isn’t spectacular. I went up with some friends and we spent a lot of time around the lake.
On the second day there, we were sitting lakeside in our beach chairs, drinking in the late summer sun, reading and napping when I noticed a dog jumping in the lake down by the dock. The dog was jumping off the dock into the water and swimming back to shore. He was getting all kinds of praise from his owner who was throwing sticks into the water that the dog was delightedly fetching and returning to his feet for the next round. Then some boys joined in the fun and were swimming with the dog as well. After about 20 minutes of this play, the owner decided it was time to leave so he said Good-bye to the boys, called his dog and they walked off the together side by side.
My friends and I were sitting about 20 yards from the dock and I noticed that the dog saw us and wanted to come and ‘check us out’. He started to head in our direction, but after one firm call from his master, he changed course back to the young man’s side. The dog’s owner probably realized that five ladies lounging in their beach chairs might not want a sopping wet dog to walk on their belongings or shake the water off his coat all over them!
I watched as the young man and his dog walked the rest of the way down the small beach area to their truck. The dog waited by the passenger side for the owner to open the door and then jumped up into the seat next to his master ready for the next part of the journey.
As they drove away, my mind swirled with comparisons between that obedient dog and myself. I thought about how that precious, loving dog was the perfect example of what my obedience should like. Let me unpack it like this:
- The dog was completely obedient to the voice of his Master. One word from his lips and the dog turned and obeyed immediately.
- The dog trusted that his owner would provide him with everything he needed – and the owner did. In the short amount of time that I saw the interactions between dog and owner, I saw the owner provide protection, fun, praise and correction that kept the dog out of trouble.
- The owner was gentle, kind and firm. His voice reflected exactly what was needed for each situation. The young man’s understanding of each scenario and his corresponding directions to the dog were reflected in his tone. The dog’s devoted obedience to this voice kept a harmonious peace between owner and pet.
- The young man never had to run after the dog, chase him, grab him harshly, pull him back into alignment, or raise his voice. And he did all of this without the use of a leash. His voice was the only thing that kept that dog close to him.
- The dog was so devoted to his owner that he stayed right by his side as they walked. And when his attention got diverted by our little campsite of colorful beach chairs, the owner’s presence and voice were enough to draw the dog back to his place by the young man’s side. All he did was call the dog by name and the dog turned right around and returned to his owner’s side. Marvelous obedience. Great devotion.
So the questions I had to ask myself as I watched this all transpire were these:
- Why don’t I always display the same level of devotion to the voice of my Lord especially since my Lord is perfect and has demonstrated such a love for me that it is beyond measure?
- When I run off in the wrong direction, how quickly do I respond the voice of the Lord when He is calling me to return to His side?
- Am I quicker on the trigger in my obedience as the years go by?
- Has my trust level and awe for the Lord’s perfect care and ultimate wisdom increased my devotion and obedience?
- Does the Lord have to chase me around, raise His voice and basically wrangle me back into obedience or am I so devoted to His presence that I don’t want to be away from Him?
What are your answers to the questions above?
How do you think you could become more obedient? How could you become more devoted to the presence of the Lord and grateful to be by His side?
I hope you’re not insulted at any comparison between you and a dog. Obviously, God has given us faculties that a dog will never possess. But I think you can understand my point in that not all dogs are as obedient and devoted as this dog was. Some dogs are downright stubborn and untrainable. So I make these comparisons between our obedience and that of this devoted dog with the understanding that we are obviously the more intelligent species…so are we acting like it?
For me, I have noticed that as I spend more time in God’s presence in private, I become more attuned to His voice, and more devoted to His heart. I become more aware of the tones of His voice as he gently guides me so that I am not five miles off track before I realize that he’s been calling to me for quite some time!
Getting into regular fellowship with Jesus keeps me from trying to take back control of my life. Humility is the only place of reason when we’ve come face-to-face with the living God who is outside of time and Who has a vantage point on our lives that we will never have. Devoted obedience really is the only intelligent response once we have truly seen Who he is!
Lord, I come to you in humility asking you to forgive me for all of the times and all of the ways that I wander off into my own pursuits and neglect Your gentle voice calling me back to Your side. I ask for You to cleanse my heart from the worship and lust for everything that doesn’t satisfy. May You increase my devotion and passion for Your presence so that my heart is grieved when there is distance between us. Thank You, Jesus, that Your cross is enough for my sin and disobedience and that you don’t bring up my wandering ways to make me feel guilty but to correct and protect me. I love you, Lord. Thank You for loving me! Amen.