I have two puppies. This was a brilliant idea when, on the first day of school, all six of my babies climbed on busses and drove away and I, brimming with hormones and completely lost, decided that another puppy was the most logical course of action. They spend their days needing stuff, just like the 6 kids I put on the bus every morning. See how smart this was? And I’m more tied to the house than ever before because New Guy has to pee every four minutes. So smart. There will be a day when this is so great, but it prolly won’t be this day.
This is the tale of walking two puppies. Winston pulls and wants to lead. He is like me. Baxter (New Guy) walks so closely to my heels that I often step on him. Baxter is how I need to be. Because here’s what I know about myself: I love to be in the lead, love to be in charge. Even when following the God of the universe (the actual God of the actual universe), I often pull and pull and try to get him to go where I want to go. This way is where I’ve always envisioned myself going, I say. And as I pull, I get all gaspy and I choke and it’s miserable. I’m miserable.
I wasn’t made to lead. I was created to follow. So closely to my Father that I trip over his feet. That his very steps become my own. And so closely that wherever he goes, I can’t help but go too because I’m tethered to him That’s just exactly what it takes to make stubborn, ridiculous me follow: a strong rope and a worthy leader. And the promise that if I continue to pull and demand my own way, I’ll be given it. He might loose the leash for a time and let me run and it’ll hurt eventually, it always does when we think we can run free of our Creator. We think it’s going to be so great to be given over and it ends up just hurting. Your kids, you can teach them and teach them to stay away from the hot stove, but one touch and they’ll be taught it in a way that gets through. My high school and college years were filled with this untethered freedom and I bear scars from it. Scars that taught me that it’s best for my own safety to be tethered to the Master. That learning to follow is precious work. We say often to our Smalls, “You need to obey us so that you can obey the Holy Spirit when he speaks to you. We are your practice. Hear our voices and learn to obey them and it will go easier for you when your Father speaks.” It’s the only commandment in the Bible with a rule and a promise: Obey your mothers and fathers that your life may be long. Childhood is practice for spiritual maturity. The young pups who pull will, we pray, become the patient dogs who follow. Lord, let them become the patient dogs who follow. If we don’t screw them up in one area, let it be this one. So that we can raise a generation of people who know that being tethered to the master is the safest and holiest place to be.
Lest you think that I want my kids to be meek in the world, let me tell you no. Be meek with their savior, but warriors in the world, that’s what I pray. But that stretches the analogy too much and makes it feel contrived, so we’ll leave it. Just know this: that how you choose to walk it, wether pulling or following, has repercussions in the spiritual realm and in your own family. They will watch you struggle with authority and question their own or they will wonder at your obedience and hope to emulate it someday themselves. How we walk this out affects generations of people. I sometimes feel weighted down by this realization, but it’s truth and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you. Be a Baxter.
This is me being real.