Those of you who regularly read my Friday blog know I adore my dog, Jack. We have such fun together on our walks, sometimes along a stretch of beach, sometimes through fields, and other times exploring wooded paths. Yesterday we were enjoying walking around a local recreational field. It’s dotted here and there with clumps of trees in the midst of a large expanse of grassy fields.
Jack loves finding other dogs who will agree to a game of chase. It’s delightful watching the dogs as they run out long and circle back before charging off again in their pursuits of each other. Yesterday, Jack and a short haired white terrier, took immediately to each other. I stood watching them while the other dog’s owner was watching from the other side of the field. Round and round they went, eyes shining, tongues out. What fun!
After a good while, the other dog’s owner calls out, “Freddie, come on.” Knowing it was time for the game to end, I followed suit and called, “Jack, come on.” Freddie went to his owner. Jack did not come to his. Jack went with Freddie. Jack’s owner was annoyed. Actually, I suppose more than being annoyed, I was embarrassed that Jack, unlike obedient Freddie, was ignoring my call. Time and again I called while Jack trotted ahead with Freddie. I caught up to him in one moment, but just before I got my hands on his harness, he took off again! I called but Jack had gone completely deaf.
Nearby, another dog’s owner, obviously watching the entire escapade, says encouragingly to me, “all our dogs have their moments of selective hearing. Just wait here. He’ll come back.” I decided his advice was good. Besides, I was tired of huffing and puffing from pointless running to and fro. A bench was tucked back in a clump of trees. I sat down and leant forward watching Jack and Freddie run further and further away.
In the midst of their playing, Jack glances back. Then he looks at Freddie who is walking on with his owner. Jack takes a few steps in Freddie’s direction, then stops. He looks back but does not see me. In that moment of realising I might not be there, he speeds forward, stopping and looking around, then speeds forward again. His body language reveals panic. I stand. He sees me. Relief washes over his face. Ears back and eyes shining, he runs to me. I speak firmly, holding his face to look at me, “Jack, no! You come!” He appears dejected. Tail down. He knows. Then I start walking. He walks beside me, tail still down. I stop and hug him, ruffle his hair and say, “Let’s go home, boy.” He trots ahead, tail up, and off we go, relationship restored to right standing.
Aren’t we all a bit like Jack at times with our selective hearing to the instructions of God? We know what we should do, but we’re easily distracted. Sometimes things that lure us away are so much fun! Just a little longer, we tell ourselves. Away we go! Suddenly, we glance back. The presence of God seems to have disappeared. We cannot sense His nearness. Fear sets in. We panic. “What to do? What to do?” Our hearts shout in fear! Then, we make a decision. We run back towards Him, and in His grace, He beckons us to come. We hear the stern reproach for our disobedience. We hang our heads. We are truly sorry. Then — we feel it — the sweet, forgiving hug of Jesus. Gladly, He welcomes us back. Together, we walk on.
“My Child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures…Then you will understand what is right and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.” Proverbs 2:1-4, 9-10