Thriving Lessons from a Dog

averyMany of my mornings this summer have started with what I like to call the Running of the Dogs. Believe me. Getting in front of these two when they run is every bit as risky as any of the streets of Pamplona during their annual festival.

Since we live on an acreage, neither of the dogs are on leashes. As long as they stay within the sound of my voice and come within eye sight every minute or two, they can follow all the rabbit trails their hearts desire.

This wasn’t always the case.

You see, one of the dogs–Avery–doesn’t live with us permanently. She’s my son’s dog, and up until this summer, she’d only been at our house for short-term visits. Now this dog is bred to run. With the DNA of greyhounds running through her, she can take down a coyote with a 50-yard head start on her. But early in the summer, she didn’t respond to our commands and was in very real danger any time she was off a leash. We live close to two very busy roads–one of them a four-lane highway. Running with no regard to boundaries was out of the question.

So when I would head out on my morning runs, only our dog Lexie was allowed to join the party. Avery stayed behind in her 12-foot square enclosure. These were not happy days for Avery.

IMG_20170801_110405377_HDR (2)Luckily, as the summer progressed, her willingness to obey increased. With the help of a training collar that emits a high-pitched beep when I press a button on its remote, she’s learned to come when I call and has earned the right to join the morning run.

So what does all this have to do with thriving?

We live in a culture that tells us things like boundaries and rules and authority are bad. That the only way to be truly free is to set our own rules, forge our own paths. But is it really? What if the opposite were true? What if the only way to experience our greatest freedom is to listen to our Master’s voice . . . to follow His paths?

I came across this verse the other day:

“I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

Do you see that? Freedom is found in obedience. When Jesus first called the fishermen (Peter and Andrew and James and John) to be his disciples, he challenged them to go deeper . . . to experience life like they’d never experienced it before. [Luke 5:1-11] But in order to do that, they had to obey. They had to choose to follow His lead.

Because Avery is willing to follow my commands, to stay within the boundaries of my path for her, she is free to be the dog she was created to be. She can run like the wind, follow all the smells, flush out quail, splash in the water . . . in short, she can THRIVE.

IMG_20170731_083713594Psalm 32:8 tells us:

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life . . . ” [emphasis mine]

Isn’t that what we all want? The BEST life? A DEEPER life? So what’s keeping you from obeying your Master’s voice today? Follow His lead and THRIVE!

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