Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Concentrating on Obedience

I wrote this in my journal yesterday (and yes, I do realize I wrote about it not that long ago):

In the fragrant, brilliant, spring-almost-summer morning, I sat on a blue and green striped pillow on the corner of our deck, throwing a neon green ball to Kincade, putting him through his paces, so to speak. He's learned so quickly in the last couple of weeks what I expect of him each time he drops the ball. Today, the new command added was to come to me across the yard, sit again before I threw the ball and he got to run. He learned this new skill so quickly. Okay, immediately! But he was panting hard to keep himself in check. It takes as much out of him to obey me--as much energy and will--as it does to simply run and catch the ball willy-nilly over and over.

It's hard work and concentration for him to listen to me, to comprehend what I will ask this time. Will I say, "Sit?" Or, "Down?" Or "Stay?" All three? Will I put the ball down in the grass across the yard, walk back to him and make him wait even long before telling him, "Okay!" All of these are possibilities he's alert to.
Sometimes he gets distracted. If Jamaica gets in the way, if she makes a move toward his ball, for instance, he can lose focus. If he takes his eyes off me, he can also lose focus. But I'm amazed at how seldom he breaks eye contact with me. I've even moved around behind our garden shed to see what he'll do, and he just stares at the space where he knows I must be. Interestingly, he always returns to 'base' after he catches the ball. No matter where I've moved around the yard, he knows that our starting place is that corner of the deck where my pillow sits. He learned that the first day. Yes, even if he got distracted, got off course, he always goes back to base to start over.

Yes, it's hard work for him. But there's undeniable satisfaction, too. He knows I'm always pleased with him. He loves that; his tail wags for miles. There are no special treats involved, just my "Good boy!" that makes him happy.

When I came inside and began thinking about this ordinary thing I do each morning (I've been throwing for my dogs first thing each day about 15 years now), I was hit in the gut with how this new routine with Kincade is a great analogy for me as a follower of Christ. It should teach me something. It's almost so self-evident I don't need to translate it. We call Kincade Fat-head, but that could easily--often--be me. Sitting, waiting, coming to my Master's call. That's it. The work of obedience takes will and concentration but brings deep satisfaction. And no matter what, always, always return to base--where He sits. It's where He is.

It's just that simple.

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