Let's Go For a Walk
At my house lives a Boxer named Penny. She's my canine friend who in two years of living with us has become the household's center of attention. During the State of Illinois stay-at-home order from our Governor, she seems to have grown in her fondness for me. I can't seem to get away from her. I desire to change her name to Shadow but I've been overridden. I think from a biblical perspective names change a lot so...
Penny has two habits that dominate her life and two hobbies that bring her great joy, The habits are eating and sleeping. Nothing supersedes eating unless, of course, she happens to be sleeping. Food is her god. Food wins no matter. If you ask her if she would like to partake in either of her two hobbies - walking or riding (in a car) - her ears stand at attention as the excitement runs through her nervous system. She loves those two hobbies so much that we can't utter the words 'walk' or 'ride' without seeing her get hyper. Instead, we use abbreviations of W or R in sentences. Seriously.
The W-word has become an activity that has risen to the top of my daily routine over the past five weeks. And Penny/Shadow has walked along beside me.
I've been thinking on my walks, maybe too much. Lately, I've thought about the path Penny and I walk. It tends to be the same walk each and every time, maximizing the length while minimizing the social contact. Our walks are so predictable that Penny/Shadow knows which turn to take before I guide her to do so. Turn right out of the driveway, left at the corner, walk four blocks, take a left, and so forth. She even knows portions of the walk are on the sidewalk while other portions of the walk are on the street against traffic.
Five weeks into the stay-at-home routine and I have taught this Boxer where to walk by repeating my actions on a daily basis. In essence, she is now leading me.
Hmmm. Here I am thinking again.
Penny is a dog. She is part of the family in the non-human category. Three humans live with me also, two of which are teenagers. My W in this life will influence the direction of the two children still at home. Child Number 1 is on her own and has already experienced the good, bad, and the ugly of me. (Please forgive my missteps Number 1).
Journeying around the neighborhood last week this sentence rang out: it does matter what I say and teach but those words only cement themselves if my journey matches the instruction.
I can't just preach the Gospel from the pulpit or write about it in a blog; I have to live it for real. It seems simple on 'paper', not so in real-time.
As is the storyline of The Pilgrims Progress (John Bunyan,1678), there is only one path that leads to the finish line with a greeting "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). No other path, no matter how wide or long or short will suffice for the Heavenly Father. Walk the way of Jesus or don't walk at all.
Walk the way of Jesus or don't walk at all.
It's not enough to point people to the Cross and Empty Tomb, I must walk with Christ throughout my journey.
Philip Graham Ryken wrote a paragraph that I have highlighted in a commentary on Jeremiah and I'm burning it into my brain. A portion reads:
"Many Christians assume they can have Christ and the world at the same time...They end up mixing a little greed, pride, immortality, gluttony, idleness, worry, bitterness, and selfishness in with faith, hope, and love."
Does that not sum up the struggle of the Christian W?
I struggle with alternative paths. That list includes pride. I am king of walking in pride. Yet the Lord still loves me. The Lord went to the Cross for me. The Lord rose again for me. And when I veer off into the thorns of life, He will leave the flock of 99 for this messed up one.
When I walk with Penny/Shadow, I use a leash. It is for correcting her when she decides to get off the right path. Sometimes it's a gentle pull, just a slight correction; other times not so gentle cause she loses her focus completely. ('Squirrel!')
I must teach my children and those in my circle of influence that when you walk away from Christ's ways on your spiritual W, do not forget dear son or daughter that the God of the Universe created YOU.
He knew YOU would not be perfect in the end and He created you anyway. He is sovereignly watching over you and - without a visible leash - He is correcting, nudging, rebuking for His Name's sake.
Penny is a dog. She isn't perfect. She's a scoundrel sometimes, mischievous when no one is looking. She knows no better than to worship food. God didn't inspire a canine bible. He inspired one for humans. When you decide to act out and go for a W counter to the direction of the Lord, remember He awaits your return from your Prodigal adventure (Luke 15:20-24).
Stop walking down the wrong path and let Him nudge you back on the path of righteousness.
[2Ti 3:16-17 ESV] 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Walk the way of Jesus or don't walk at all.