Today I want to talk about Sam. Sam is my neighbor’s dog. He is really sweet, and I walk him almost every day. My neighbors are appreciative, and some of my other neighbors think I am doing something nice. Full disclosure – I do not walk him because it helps my neighbor. I walk Sam because I like him. I like dogs, but for various reasons do not have my own dog – so I get my daily dog “fix.” The second reason is that it forces me to take a walk (and I need the steps). Notice that, yes, it helps my neighbors, but that is not my motivation. So, while others think I am doing a kind thing – I am doing a selfish thing. And while helping my neighbors’ is a reason for walking Sam – it falls around 10 or 11 on the list.
Having said that, I do not need any additional “rewards” from God for this activity. I get my pleasure here and now and do not expect anything more. But my purpose today is not to discuss where and when we receive our rewards for what we do but to talk about things I have learned while walking Sam.
When I first start walking Sam, he almost drags me down the road. He is so excited to be taking his walk. Our standard walk is four laps around the neighborhood, and you can tell almost exactly which lap we are on by Sam’s behavior. Lap one, as I said, is Sam dragging me along his nose directed firmly towards the ground. I get my cardio workout because to save my shoulder I jog this lap. Lap two, his enthusiasm is waning, but he is still “out front.” Lap three, we are side by side, and he gives me optimistic looks at the places where we normally head back to his house. Lap four, well… I don’t have to drag him, but he is definitely behind me. And then there is a moment when I give the command “home,” and suddenly this dog who you would have thought had nothing left in the tank is once again dragging me, but this time instead of away from home to adventure, it is to home away from adventure.
This morning while walking him, it struck me how much Sam’s walk with me is like my walk with Christ. I start out every day full of enthusiasm, so excited to be with Jesus that I race out in front of Him. Thankful that I am tethered to Him because, without that tether, I risk running so far ahead I would lose Him. Jesus, unlike me, is not going to race to keep my pace. I have to learn to pace with Jesus.
One thing I didn’t mention was in that last lap, when Sam is tired and lagging, if I call him to come and give him a pat and a cuddle, he brightens up and takes off with a renewed burst of energy for 20 steps or so. It is the same with me. There are those times when I am tired and dragging and need a connection with God. He is there to give that connection, that kiss, but it starts with an invitation to come. I don’t go to Sam; I call him to come. God is the same. He calls me to come to Him, I get encouragement, but I must come to Him. That is one of the biggest reminders I gained from Sam that I need to be listening to God calling me to come and respond because no matter how weary I may be, He is waiting to give me a hug.