I loved Sophie. Best.dog.ever.
Adopted from a local humane society at the age of seven, she was the perfect "first dog." She was consistently gentle, loving, loyal, and trusting. In fact, interactions with her prompted numerous blogs about God’s nature towards us.
Eight and a half years later, Sophie passed away peacefully in her sleep. I was a mess. Truth be told, I am still grieving. Even after nine months, conversation about her is often cut short because I am unable to neither quell the lump in my throat nor stifle the tears in my eyes. Over the last month, however, there have been fleeting moments when I thought about returning to the humane society where we adopted Sophie. But, I didn't want to go alone.
The perfect opportunity to brave a visit came when my daughter expressed interest in exploring dog ownership. Bolstered by the surprisingly non-emotional return to the humane society, we decided to tour a larger pet adoption organization downtown. The organization features a biography of each dog. Creatively written and seasoned with humor, the canine's journey is recounted in a manner intended to evoke empathy from the reader. The bio also highlights the dog's personality and identifies unique traits and special skills. Visitors at this particular facility are also offered a "hands-on" experience to bond with an adoptable dog by taking it for a walk in the large, fenced-in yard behind the building.
As we strolled through the facility, we came across an extremely active dog whose paws reached the top of the tall cage when it stood on its hind legs. The posted canine bio ended with this warning, “This dog is very strong. Experienced dog-walkers only." Observing size of its paws, the length of its legs, and its ability to jump in a confined space, this information came as no surprise. Looking out the glass doors, it was easy to imagine trying to handle this dog, losing my balance, and then being mercilessly dragged through the muddy back yard as he bolted toward perceived freedom.
Driving home, I chuckled at the folly of that dog-walking scenario. "Well, duh," I thought. "Surely, if the dog had bolted, I would have let go of the leash."
That thought was suddenly short-circuited by the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit saying, "Oh really?" Inhaling slowly, I paused and invited God to speak. He continued, "Son, you leashed yourself to something this morning and you have been dragged around by it all day long."
He was right… of course.
[Now here's the back story. I was recently rear-ended by an uninsured driver who eventually refused to follow through with a verbal and written commitment to “take care of everything.” After texts and phone calls with the driver, conversations and emails with the insurance company, visits to three body shops, a stop at a police precinct, and dialogue with God, I had come to the point of needing to make a decision about a path forward.]
When I woke that Saturday morning, the Lord showed me that I had leashed myself to anxiety about how to proceed in that situation. Anxiety bolted toward fear, and instead of letting go of the leash, I held on and allowed myself to be dragged through the mud of mental distraction, emotional chaos, and wearying confusion.
Too tired to be offended that God called me out, I instead collapsed in surrender. I let go of the leash and grasped the hand of Love extended to me. Upheld in His grace, I rested in His embrace and received the gift of His peace. The water of His Word gently washed off the “mud,” as He reminded me of His promise, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8 AMP).
Have you leashed yourself to anxiety? Are you being dragged by the bolting dog of fear? Perhaps it is time to let go of the leash and to instead cling to the hand of Love extended to you. Receive His grace and rest in His Word to you in the face of your circumstances, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 NRSV). Abide, remain, and rest, then look with expectation to see what God will do! Why? “Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you’ (MSG). "I will teach you and tell you the way to go and how to get there; I will give you good counsel, and I will watch over you" (Psalm 32:8 VOICE). Thanks be to God.
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