I call it “The Ring and Run.” It’s what my dog does when he wants to go out to relieve himself, but doesn’t want me to put his harness on him.
Allow me to give you some background.
A year ago this September, I was looking for something to do on a Saturday. A couple of friends saw an advertisement for a puppy Adopt-a-thon at a local veterinary clinic. Being the sucker that I am, I requested we go to play with the puppies. When we got there we found one sweet little 8lb puppy bouncing around the waiting room chasing after a ball. He was just about the cutest thing I had ever seen with soft chestnut fur, two huge silky brown ears flopping all over the place, and two brown eyes that just consumed me. It was love at first sight. I adopted him and brought him home to my husband Glenn who, though I thought it wasn’t possible, fell even more in love with him.
That was a year ago. Today Jake weighs in at about 55 lb, still thinks he is a lap dog, and has been described by our friends and family as mentally challenged, neurotic, and psychotic (to name a few). A lot has changed in the year that we’ve had him. Because of Jake’s psychotic behavior and strength, Glenn and I purchased a harness that goes around his neck and under his two front legs. This is about the only thing that works when trying to control him.
In addition to his craziness, he was having trouble telling us when he needed to go out. On the suggestion of a dog trainer, we purchased a cowbell that hangs on the front door and that he rings when he needs to use the bathroom. He quickly learned that the bell was the way to get outside and that the harness was our way of controlling him, two conflicting outcomes… and so he does the Ring and Run. He rings the bell to go out and then as soon as we get out the harness he runs to the opposite end of the house. He knows that he will make us happy if he goes to the bathroom outside, so he rings the bell. On the other hand, he knows that he doesn’t like the harness, so he runs the other direction.
This behavior, of course, makes Glenn and me quite angry and one day, while trying to evaluate my reactions and the source of my anger, I think I was given some insight into how I play with God.
James 1:23 says,
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
As I think back over my 22 years as a Christian, I have to wonder, how many times have I “rung the bell” to change my life, only to see the harness and run the other way? How many times have I heard a challenging message and fallen prostrate before the Lord, walked up the aisle to confess at the altar, handed my sin over to the Lord, and truly seen myself for who I am? How many times have I begged the Lord to change my heart, break my heart, make it his?!
And yet, time and time again, I find myself running the other direction when it gets too tough. Sometimes I try to creep out of the way and hope that I’m not noticed as I slip out of my harness and back into my old habits. I hear a sermon that reminds me how great and mighty my God is and how small I am. I come before the Lord declaring my absolute need for him, yet I still push the snooze button and take my extra half hour of sleep. After all, going through the day without that sleep would just be too tough.
I am hit with a huge decision to make. I confess my need for the Lord and ask His Spirit to prompt me to pray, yet I turn on the radio during my morning commute and turn on the TV when I get home so the house isn’t so quiet. I could turn them off and wait for the Spirit to tell me how to pray, but I run because it would just be too hard. Everything in the world and everything in my human nature tells me that to absolutely live by the Word would just be too hard, so I make excuses for myself. I think that we are all this way.
The Lord knows that the only way we will become the humble children He longs for us to be is if He puts the harness on us and trains us. Living life with the Spirit does not come naturally and, though my family and friends may argue this, we are much like my dog Jake when it comes to the way we live our lives. We are wild, bouncing from one thing to the next, difficult to control, and too strong for our own good. We need to be tamed. We need God to put the harness on us and teach us the right way to walk, the right way to respond, the right way to speak.
God loves us and wants us to be mature followers that are humble and obedient to Him. He knows that we are not born this way and so He first, shows us who we are and then puts the harness on us.
So my challenge is to stop the “Ring and Run” routine! I know that there are things in your life that God has convicted you about in the past and that you have shied away from the challenge (either immediately or over a period of time).
I dare you to go back to the word (God’s mirror) and take in your reflection. After you have done this, remember what you looked like and beg for the Lord to change you. Ask for and expect His harness as He begins to fix the pieces of your life that are out of His will. This is going to be hard. We are quitters and wimps when it comes to our spiritual walks. God is asking us to boldly embrace our harness and begin our journey toward a right life with Him.