We have a little dog who loves to chase the critters through the woods that borders our property. At first we let her run to her heart’s content. However after seeing a pair of foxes close to our house, we decided it would be better to keep her on a leash. We have a leash that allows her to wander out about twenty feet and this works great on a sidewalk. But on the trails of the woods it creates a problem since she likes to step off the trail into the brush; inevitably getting the leash tangled in the undergrowth or wrapped around a tree. I have learned that it is better to use a short lead which prevents her from getting off the trail. I also have noticed that with the short lead she is constantly glancing at me for direction.
I started to compare the experience of walking my dog with my walking with Jesus and I found some surprising similarities. In both cases we start out great; side by side on our journey. But just as my dog fails to follow my lead, I am prone to do the same with Jesus. Instead of constantly seeking His guidance my concentration breaks and I step off into the undergrowth of life. All of a sudden, I am confident and independent with an alarming sense of self-sufficiency. In nose-to-the-ground fashion I achieve tunnel vison for taking care of MY kingdom all by MY self. I have to worry about my finances. I have to take control of my career. I have to protect my rights. The next thing I know I am tangled up; all wrapped around the priorities I have created instead of looking to Jesus for direction.
Mathew 13:22 tell us “…the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word making it unfruitful.” If we take our focus off our Lord and Savior we will undoubtedly wind up tangled in the vines and brambles of daily life. Go too far astray and we become so wrapped up in our self-made problems that we are miserably stuck.
Mathew 6:25-32 is all about worrying over things that are really out of our control, and Jesus warns us that worry shows how little faith we have. Obviously we should have appropriate concern over our appearance, finances, and well-being. What we must not do is make these concerns such a priority that we become impatient and impertinent. When we do that we are telling Jesus that he can’t handle it as well as we can.
When I have my dog on the short lead there is less chance she will get too far out in front of me. She has to keep in step with me or the minimal slack of the lead will tug her back. As we walk together she makes sure to pay attention to my direction and we stay in synch. Likewise, if I don’t want to get out in front of Jesus I need to make sure I do the things that keep me in synch. Make time for prayer and devotion. Read the Bible daily. Worship with a faithful body of believers. Galatians 5:24 says “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Walking in the Spirit with my focus on Jesus is much easier if I keep myself on a short lead.