I woke up to a crisp cool morning. Temperatures in the 50's. No humidity. You'd never know it was mid-July. It could easily be mistaken for an early Autumn morning.
My cuddily Oompa Loompa (aka Baxter the Goldendoodle) seemed especially sweet while I got ready and loyally stayed right by my side. Knowing I had some extra time and wanting to take advantage of the cooler temperatures, I decided to take the dog for a walk. Little did I know he had other plans.
I should have known before we left our driveway when he was trying to chase the leash, spinning himself - and me - in circles and working us both into knots. I realized the problem. I was giving him too much leeway. I had to tighten the leash, give him less rope and essentially less freedom. I attempted to keep him right by my side. He still had other plans.
We started our ascent down from the cul de sac. It's the perfect hill that requires no pedaling when whizzing down on your bike (yes, even at my age I have tried it). It's also the perfect hill to get a jump start on a jogging pace. Yes, as you can imagine, my doodle dog had other plans.
He was still trying to get the leash in his mouth. Maybe he thought he could chew himself free. The whole episode landed him tying his own front legs with the leash and in one full swoop he knocked himself to the ground. I was concerned he might be hurt but he was now aware he had a better angle on eating the leash. I could see he did not want to be tied down.
As quick as he fell, he was up even quicker and off we went. It was as if the gun had sounded and he was racing out of the gate headed toward the finish line. He's half my weight and full of puppy energy. He doesn't know his own strength and I was about to find it out for myself as he yanked me down the road at a blazing speed. I'm not a runner. Add onto that the fact that I haven't trained for ANYTHING since early April. I'm not only out of shape, I'm NOT A RUNNER. But we were running.
We made it all the way down the hill and through the dip in the road before we started up the steep incline. He was determined to keep running and I was now breaking into a full sweat and panic. "Baxter, slow down!" I yanked on the leash, I tried to pull him back. For a half second the force of his speed was almost pulling me and I nearly thought I might just let him drag me up the hill. No, I had to regain control.
We managed to make it to the end of the road at a jogging/brisk walking pace. On our way back home I could tell he had worn himself. Silly dog. He stopped to sniff every mailbox, every pile every other dog left behind, digging into clovers, he even went chasing after a grasshopper. Now I was dragging him. "Come on, let's go home." He looked up at me and I could tell - he had other plans. He plopped himself in the grass on the side of the road. He had plumb wore himself out and we had 3/4 of the way yet to go. "You've got to pace yourself, Bax. You can't use all your energy up in the first leg of the race!"
I'm happy to say we made it home. He's resting and so am I. I never intended to break a sweat on such a pleasant morning. We both are trying to catch our breath and I am certainly seeing the life lesson in our morning run/walk/jog/exercise fiasco.
I can only imagine how often I am pulling and tugging, trying to break free of the grip the Master has on me. Somehow I see this restraint as restricting what I want to do, never realizing He's graciously trying to spare me of the fight and struggle and loss of energy that it inevitably brings. He knows how far we have to go and what hills are up ahead. "Come on, God, I want to run! I'm ready. Just let me go. Why are you holding me back?"
He's also willing to lead and guide me - if I would just walk with Him. I constantly leave His side, trying to forge my own way, distracted by all the "stuff" others leave behind. "Stay on course," I'm sure He wants to remind me. Before I know it, I've worn myself out and I don't have the strength to make it home.
My intentions were good. I started out so strong. I wanted to run! You told me to press on toward the goal, to run with perseverance the race set out before me.
"I also said to throw off everything that hinders you."
Lord, the grip You have on me was holding me back.
"No, the grip I had on you was for your own good. To guide you, lead you, help you stay on course and pace."
I just didn't know how far we had to go.
"That's why I want you to walk beside me. I want to guide you."
I wonder how differently our walk together would be without the struggle over control. If there wasn't a fight to be in the lead, there would be a true balance of strength and pace. If there wasn't a mad dash in the beginning, there would be endurance for the end. If there was an understanding that where we're going and how we get there isn't up to me, then I would be willing to rest in knowing He has other plans.