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Short Leashes & Close Calls

August 28th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 3: 1-4 (NLT)

 1 My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
      Store my commands in your heart.
 2 If you do this, you will live many years,
      and your life will be satisfying.
 3 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
      Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
      Write them deep within your heart.
 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people,
      and you will earn a good reputation.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My house bustles with activity.  The most obvious cause is the six-week old little princess who, at present, is innocently unaware that there is a world outside of herself. Bottles and poopies are the extent of her worldview . . . and to her defense, she can only focus on things that are like three feet away.  The other “little one” in our house is on a much lesser plane of importance, but is definitely another personality that affects our family dynamics.  That little personality is our dog, Brutus.

Brutus goes by many names.  Brutie.  Buppy (a delightful combination of “buddy” and “puppy”). Brutamaeus (his Biblical name).  Prince of Dogs (a lesser known title of canine distinction).  He lives up to every one of them.  A bruiser of a dog- the intimidating blend of poodle and bichon- nine pounds of pure black fury- he’s “attacked” many a villain with his most effective weapon . . . licking.  He’s called a “Bichon-Poo” . . . and he leaves little “bichon-poos” all over the yard.  

Truth be told, Brutus is one of the best and most well-mannered dogs that I’ve ever encountered.  Very gentle.  Not “yippy”  at all . . . well, after the first five minutes that a visitor walks in the door.  Docile, yet playful.  All in all, Brutus is an incredible dog.

Everyone we know loves Brutus.  Many have threatened to take him and keep him as their own.  Not a chance!  Even our office staff loves him.  I’m very fortunate to work in an environment that is casual, to say the least.  Shorts and sandals (sometimes with very comfortable socks underneath them– see previous blog history) are the norm. Furthermore, our dogs are welcome here– hence, the table is set for my Brutus story.

Brutus is normally very obedient.  He loves coming to the office with me.  When we enter the front door, he usually sprints straight to my office to check things out.  Then, he heads up the stairs to greet Pastor Andrew.  If he’s lucky, his girlfriend, Gracie (Pastor Andrew’s eighty-pound Golden Retriever) is also here.  They will chase each other in circles for hours.  Brutus has no idea that she outweighs him by like a whole person.

All that running makes for quite the need for a restroom break.  Now, at home, I usually keep Brutus on a leash; but at the office, he can usually be trusted to go potty and then come back in because he’s so excited to get back to playtime.  But one day, that plan backfired.

Brutus began his incessant sniffing, as he usually does, to find the right spot to do his business.  But this time, he just kept wandering.  I called for him, but he didn’t come to me.  It seemed that he had picked up some scent that was luring him away and he couldn’t come to his senses enough to respond to my commands. 

At first, I thought he would surely come back as he always does; but he just kept sniffing and running.  Before I knew it, he had made a beeline towards the street and I realized that I was about seventy-five yard away from him and would never be able to catch him on foot.  Frantically, I jumped in my truck, threw it into gear, and floored it across the parking lot.  

I reached the street as he was just walking out into it.  As I jumped out of the truck yelling, I could see a large school bus careening down the hill heading straight for him.  I ran as fast as I could, but I knew that there was a good chance this could be his ultimate ending.

Though I had been shouting to no avail for some time now, Brutus seemed to suddenly and instinctively sense the danger he was in.  Fortunately, the bus driver saw him and had just enough time to come to a stop only inches away from him.  The bus halted just as I simultaneously reached him.  He had cowered down and planted himself right in the middle of the street, looking up at me with terrified eyes that seemed to say, “Oops, did I do that?”

This verse is about our tendencies to forget what we know.  Like Brutus, sometimes the humanity within us catches the wrong scent and we inadvertently wander from our Master.  It happens faster than you might think and the results can be disastrous.  

The key to life that is both “long” and “satisfying” (verse 2) is constantly reminding ourselves of what our Master has instructed us.  Verse 3 says to literally “tie them around your neck as a reminder.”  It’s as if Solomon is telling his son that to preserve his life and ensure its quality, he must consciously put a leash around his neck that will constantly remind him and keep him tethered to wisdom.

That sounds kind of weird, doesn’t it?  We’re not animals!  Well, true we are not . . . but the Bible does constantly refer to us as “sheep” . . . who, by the way, are much more prone to wander off than a good dog like Brutus.  Truth is, we do easily forget and we do quickly look up to find ourselves cowered down in the street of our own blunder . . . spiritually, of course.

For me, I choose to tie my own short leash to my Master and to constantly remind myself of the wise things He has spoken to me.  If that sounds strange to people . . . big deal! Control of my life is mine to give . . . and so is yours.  I don’t want to be so self-reliant that I can’t admit that I need to be tied to the wisdom of my Father.  And if I get lost, I want His name plastered around my neck so it will be easy to find my way back home again.

August 28th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Ha, my sometimes my parents go, Emily do i need to put you on a leash” I just roll eyes and continue with what I’m doing (Stupid!!) Well when I do continue I get in more trouble then I thought I was. Like basically if I was a dog (I dug myself into another hole,sometimes deeper” I always laughed how when you go to the mall you see some toddlers on leashes. I thought, “Well they sure don’t listen” But the truth is everyone needs some sorta leash so hold them back till they understand whats right,wrong,where you’re headed and how will you get back. I just go off sometimes and don’t even pay attention where I’,m going I usually trip and hurt myself (spiritually and physically..) I guess for me,I don’t like people to hold me back..cause they think I cant do it. But I guess I really can’t. If I need anyone to hold be from what could be kill me like the *bus* I better strap that leash to myself. And try and understand more and more of what God is telling me what to do and what not to do…


August 28th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

I have a dog too so I have many dog stories similar to this one. Molly (our 75 lb mutt) likes to put on what I call the “bad puppy face” when she is up to no good. She knows she isn’t being obedient and the look on her face gives her away. Only after she gets a good whack with a newspaper does she feels “sorry” for her actions.

It’s not so different with people, I suppose. We want to do what we want to do and when the results of our actions are not as positive as we thought they would be, we’re sorry. Unfortunately many of us forget how bad the consequences felt and we fall right back into the same predicament.

As the verse says, “Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” We do need a leash.

chelsey crawford
August 28th, 2008 at 11:37 pm

i love the illustration you used. that verse speaks so much truth. we learn and learn and learn things, but usually tend to forget them. (at least i do) it is like i have learned for school that i must make note cards for every test and study them a lot. the same thing applies to the bible. i need to read it constantly, remember it, and keep everything close to my heart.

Kennah Mathews
August 29th, 2008 at 3:56 am

This is such a plain and simple concept. I need to remember what God’s instructions are for my life. It is very cool to think that he has his own set of instructions for each and everyone of us. I loved how you incorporated sheep into this. I constantly wander off into little instances much like Brutus’ (spiritually of course). Actually, I did run out in front of a van in North Carolina. After thinking about what I had done, I realized how stupid it was to do that. Comparing that to wandering off from God when I am guaranteed safety with him, is even more stupid. God, please help me to remember the things that you have put in my life to keep me anchored with you. Help me not to go astray.

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