Old Dog … New Tricks

Walking two dogs of different breeds, size and age on a daily basis can at times be somewhat challenging. The stark contrast in their personalities always makes for a little adventure on every outing.

My young pup is a three-year-old medium size pup who keeps me on my toes as she is curious about everything and a natural explorer. She frequently lags behind chasing butterflies and sniffs every leaf, tree, bush and fart in the wind. When I tug on the leash to remind her that we’re actually on a “walk” she races ahead of me straining to the end of the leash nearly wrenching my arm from the socket. Her pattern is stop, sniff, run … stop, sniff, run. Her attention deficit and curiosity can be a bit frustrating at times.

My old man dog, on the other hand, is the perfect walking companion as he’s learned the joy of moving at a more sedate pace now that he’s a senior citizen at the age of 12. He is slightly smaller in stature and sticks to me so closely he can at times become a tripping hazard. Perhaps because of his age or failing eyesight he seems insecure to have me out of his line of vision. He continually turns his head as if to make sure I’m still with him. He rarely strays from the path, he doesn’t like to try new routes; he is singular in his goal — to get home and rest.

As I was wrestling to keep my little pup on the walking trail recently, I started thinking about my dogs’ personalities as an analogy for my Christian walk with Jesus. As a young Christian I felt pulled in many different directions. I explored the Bible from cover to cover. I read books and devotionals, and attended every seminar, tent meeting and church service; all in the hopes of growing my faith. I had an insatiable desire to hear from God and develop my Spiritual gifts. As a baby Christian though, I sometimes chased after things that weren’t always wise or actually Spirit-led.

Just like my pup, I had a difficult time staying on task and was easily distracted by new things. I was all over the place and frequently lacked the focus needed to develop character and integrity – especially if I wasn’t seeing results as quickly as promised.

Now after walking the straight and narrow road for more than 40 years, I’m a “well-seasoned” Christian and more like my “old man” dog in so many ways. I find that staying on the path is paramount to my well-being. I need to feel that my Lord is constantly watching over me and I feel I must stay as close to Him as possible in order to feel secure.

Some days my Lord and I walk in a perfect syncopated cadence because I’ve learned that He will never leave me or forsake me. Like my old dog, I feel a slight paranoia frequently checking to make sure He is still beside me. I don’t want to be far from the Lord’s presence.

As Christians we can become so accustomed to the Lord’s leading that we can easily become complacent; rarely expecting anything new from Him. Even knowing that He will never leave us or forsake, we can become paranoid about trying anything new like a new ministry or a new project for Jesus.

Even after years of walking with Jesus, I still find that He will occasionally push me out of my comfort zone and lead me to a new thing that I feel ill-equipped to do. I fear there are times that I am too much of an “old dog” and I don’t want to stray from the safe, comfortable path that I am on.

As God speaks to us we need to have enough of a balance between that “old dog” mindset and the excitement and curiosity of a young, fearless pup. Our purpose in life should not just be to get home to Heaven some day, but we should live life to the fullest and be excited for all that life holds TODAY.

Do you feel God pushing you to try something new; to begin a new project; to lay down some old habits or stray from your comfort zone and test the possibilities of a new ministry? Don’t be an old dog … Let Jesus teach you some new tricks.

“For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … Happy reading!

Kathy K.

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