A question I am frequently asked now is “How is the dog?” Many of you are probably aware that after a great deal of family negotiation (and stalling) the Buegler family finally stepped firmly into the world of dog ownership a little over two weeks ago.
To answer your question: Our dog, Kennedy, is doing well. The family is doing well. The cat is seriously in need of therapy. But that’s a story for another day.
On Saturday, I had Kennedy outside with me as I was doing some yard work. When it was time to bring him back inside, I grabbed the leash to walk him to the front door. At some point, he smelled something interesting on the ground and stopped cold. He was behind me, so I didn’t see this. When the leash jerked a bit, the collar slipped completely off of his head.
The dog, looked at me with kind of an astonished expression. “Freedom?” We stared each other in the eye. Time stood still for just a moment, and then the dog launched himself away. I threw myself at him, but I was about as effective as a Viking linebacker against a Packer running back. I jumped to my feet and took off in pursuit.
The dog did one quick lap around the front yard, I think mostly to get his bearing (and to taunt me), and then he took off at full speed…for the front door.
Yes, the front door. Our front door. He ran up to the door, and jumped up and down at it…it almost looked like a victory dance.
I ran over and picked him up, opened the door and brought him inside.
The dog could have taken off…could have gone anywhere..could have made a run for it and there is no way I could have caught him. But when faced with the potential for full freedom, he ran home. At this point in our time together, home is all that the dog knows. When faced with options, he returned to what is safe. In that moment, the dog was hard-wired to know to return home.
We all wander. God gives us freedom to make choices. And while God’s relationship is always in front of us, always there, always available, we do have a choice in how we respond to that relationship. And it is (as we say in the confession) a world where we are “captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.” There are lots of ways we can be distracted…where we forget who is leading us…where we slip away from the one who is there to protect us.
It’s interesting to me that people can almost always recognize within themselves that they are wandering…that they are “stuck”…and that they fundamentally know that they need to reconnect with the God who is reaching out to them, who became human, and through Jesus, seeks draw them back to God.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” – 1 Peter 2:21
I believe that we are hard-wired to know where home is. We instinctively know when we are off track, and that we need to return. But we often lack the courage to admit this, or the wisdom to turn back to God who seeks us out, and who always opens the door to our return. God always opens the door.
We follow. And occasionally we wander off of the leash. But when we do, I pray that we have the courage and wisdom to turn ourselves back to God, to re-engage that relationship, and to find ourselves back, at home.