Did you guess from the title that I might be dog-sitting again? This time every year I have good friends who go on vacation to India. They plan their trip according to when I’m in the country so I can be their dog’s vacation. I love having a dog to care for. We’re up early and taking a brisk walk to start our day. Late morning we go for our longest walk and mid-afternoon we take a shorter one. I find the whole process completely invigorating in both mind and body, no matter the weather.
I began keeping Rasta when she was still a young dog. She’s fifteen now, has arthritis, is completely deaf and her obvious cataracts make focusing a real challenge. But let us not forget her nose which, despite age, is still excellent in it’s ability to sniff out delicacies that only a dog could truly love. What joy Rasta has in her daily sniffing pursuits. (Her appetite is also still excellent!)
Until this year I could take Rasta on a countryside walk and let her off her leash. Away she would go in rapturous canine running and sniffing delight. Sadly, I have to be more careful about letting her run free now. If I let her off her leash I must be certain that I keep near and that she is aware that I’m near. I ascertained that fact very quickly when, after taking off her leash, I walked on. She was immediately into her sniffing routine. I kept glancing back at her to make certain she was still coming in the right direction. At one point, I looked back and suddenly there was a look of sheer panic across her face. Her head was turning wildly from left to right. She ran to the left. She ran forward and then turned and ran back in the direction from which we began our walk. I realized a bit too late the problem. Rasta couldn’t see me. She didn’t know where I was. She was scared. Panic took over.
I began to clap my hands as her owner had explained that while she can’t hear our voices, at times she can make out the clapping. I clapped and ran after her. She turned again, still looking for me, still panicked. I turned too, still clapping, still running after her. At one moment she turned in a new direction but wonderfully was backtracking again and this time I was near enough that I could reach out and touch her. I put my hand firmly on her shoulder and then my other hand to her head, stroking her and putting my face near hers. As quickly as the panic had come, the relief and joy came too. How happy we both were to be near to each other again and to know that we were near.
The fact is, I had never left Rasta. I was nearby all the time but she had lost sight of me. Her sniffing pursuits had distracted her from paying attention to me and my movements. When we found each other again, I squatted down near her for several minutes, stroking her, reassuring her, and enjoying her delight in my presence.
We continued our walk, this time with her happily hooked onto an extension lead. I contemplated her reaction to thinking I was gone and how she had distracted herself with her own pursuits. I thought to myself, I do that sometimes with God. He’s there all the time. He never leaves me nor forsakes me just as he promised in Hebrews 13:5. He’s always near to me even if I get distracted and forget Him for a time.
Although we all have moments when the busyness of life takes over our time with Father, it’s really a dangerous thing to do. It’s a habit we don’t want to form. We must take care lest we become as if we are deaf and blind, easily distracted by things that take our thoughts away from our First Love – Jesus. The Apostle Paul gave us an important warning in his first letter to Timothy:
“Cling tightly to your faith in Christ and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” I Timothy 2:19
None of us wants to be shipwrecked. We all want our faith in God to grow stronger each day. How do we aid ourselves in accomplishing this pursuit? Determine each day to pay attention to life’s distractions. When we go sniffing in our own pursuits, God is still near, but we may find ourselves panicking as if He were not. We lose our peace and our courage. Faith is weakened.
How much happier we are when we keep ourselves near enough to Father to more easily hear His voice and feel His touch. How happy we are to be near enough to enjoy His presence as He delights in our presence too.