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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why Life Keeps You Running Like A Dog!

Why Life Keeps You Running Like A Dog!
          There are two common phrases I’ve never quite understood:
1. I slept like a baby! (My kids never slept all that well when they were babies)
2. I’ve been working like a dog! (My dogs tend to eat, sleep and… well, not much work)
          But I want to talk today about the dog part of things... at least running like a dog.
          So it’s probably no secret to anybody who’s read any of my previous blog postings, but we are a dog loving family.  Since the time our youngest son was born we have had at least one dog in our family.  What can I say; other than they are great companions and have a lot to teach us humans about life and relationships.

          Since I am gone to work most days during the week, I try to take my turn each Saturday morning to take the dogs for a walk or a run.  Since I have a bad knee and can’t run too well myself, and since my two dogs run at dramatically different speeds, I will often take them outside of town in our van, and then give them a nice long run along some country roads.

          This past weekend, I noticed something interesting about our two current hounds, Missy (short for missy-fit) and Abby (short for abby-normal).

          Other than their size, and the fact that they are friends, they are about as different as two dogs can get! 

         Abby is a well-mannered, quiet, very obedient dog for the most part.

          While on the other hand, Missy is quite a “Diva” who likes to be the entire center of the Universe.  If she isn’t sleeping, she is usually begging for food, whining to be petted or pouting about like the entire world is against her.

          What I noticed about them on this last weekend run, was another example of how different their behavior is from one another, and how that applies to us in life as well.
          While I drive along at a near snail’s pace (so Missy’s short stubby legs don’t fall too far behind), Abby runs ahead of the van.  As I mentioned, she is usually a very reserved and quiet dog, but when we go for a run, she is like a Tasmanian devil!  She is off in the weeds and grain fields on one side, then scrambling off the road and out into the potato fields on the other side of the road.

          It’s as if she is afraid she will miss something and has to try to see everything around her before the run is finished.
          Missy on the other hand, is a stubby-legged, floppy eared, loose skinned wobbler!   She tends to have one initial short burst of energy, and then settles into a lethargic pace reminiscent of Eyeore from Winnie the Pooh!
          It’s not really her fault, she just has too much skin for her body size, which leads to some rather hilarious physics-in-motion dynamics! (The pic below isn't my Missy, but shows about what she looks like when she runs)

          I have to go slow because if she stops to smell something and I accidentally get too far ahead, she will despondently stop and just sit along the side of the road.  I once had to quickly run back home in an emergency and came back 15 minutes later, to find her sitting in the exact same spot where I left her.

          She has another funny tendency, which is if I am driving in front of her and come to a stop.  She wills top behind me and just wait.  She will wait to see if I am going to keep moving forward, turn around, or what?  She just doesn’t seem to want to expend any more energy that necessary, so she is content to just wait until I make the decision.

          The behavior of both dogs is a bit entertaining, but at times frustrating.  Missy’s slow pace makes the experience at least 3 times as long to get where you are going.
          Abby on the other hand, tends to get muddy during her off the road escapades, and will occasionally drag back some varmint she has killed, or will tend to roll about in some road kill and come back smelling like a rotting garbage heap!
          But they are our dogs, and we love them, so their weird behavior is tolerated because of the joy they bring to us in so many other ways (Like how to be forgiving, loyal, etc...!)
          But I realized that in the course of running through our various mortal lives, we aren’t much different than my two dogs.
          While our loving Master has laid out a straight and narrow path to follow, many of us are like my Abby:  We tend to venture off the approved course of commandments as often as we have the chance in order to try and “experience” what life has to offer.  This type of lifestyle usually leaves us dirtied to some degree, carrying some of life’s refuse and the unpleasant stench of spiritual road kill.
          I’m sure all of us know of individuals or maybe have been personally involved in how the habits of alcoholism, pornography, theft, infidelity, dishonesty or other worldly habits have devastated marriage relationships, and left behind a trail of broken homes and lives.
          You can’t indulge in behavior outside of God’s parameters and come away clean and unscathed.  The good news is that for those who have strayed, a loving Master has a way to cleanse us!
          My dogs don’t generally like a good bath and scrubbing down while the process is going on, but after it is over, they are so happy to be clean once again!

          The same is true for us.  When we have made mistakes (which all of us do), the process of repentance (although it is a process of love) isn’t always pleasant to go through, but once we find the peace and forgiveness and sense of spiritual cleanliness on the other side, we marvel and wonder why we have stayed away in our stench for so long!
          Others of us are like my dog Missy.  We tend to lumber methodically, despondently, making every effort to expend the least amount of effort possible.  When we can see our loving Master not far ahead, beckoning us forward, we plod along at our own contented pace and expect the Master to conform to our own speed and designs.
          If we get distracted somewhere along the journey of mortality, and look up to find that the Master isn’t easily in sight, we can tend to want to sit and do nothing, because the Master is constantly beckoning us along.
          The reality is in these situations, isn’t that the Master has left us, but because we have wandered away from Him.
          Fortunately for us, we do have a loving Master and Savior, who despite our weird tendencies and imperfections, loves to be intimately involved in our run through life.  He knows we have strange mortal propensities and behaviors, and understands and cares about us more than we will ever know.
          Because of this, if we are willing to heed His beckoning call to come back on the path and keep moving forward, He can and will lead us along the straight and narrow way, cleansing us and encouraging us as often as we need, as long as we are willing to hear His voice and try to obey!
          In this crazy world, which tends to keep us running like dogs, let us remember, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
          I know that if we all just do a little better to stay on the straight and narrow path, and keep up with the pace the Master has for us, the journey will be a lot more happy and joyful along the way!