Posted by: Kara Luker | October 18, 2019

Wayward Pup


Google Pic (I was too busy chasing the dog to take a photo of the actual experience!)

On my walk yesterday, I came upon a large dog bounding up the street toward me, leaving in the dust two women obviously trying to catch him. As I called to the dog in an attempt to give his owners time to catch up, he ran over to inspect me and accept a bit of affection. But since he had no collar for me to grab, it wasn’t long before he was gleefully galloping off to explore the neighborhood like a released prisoner. It was a picture of joyful freedom. Except for the fact that he kept dashing into the busy road, oblivious to the fact that he was nearly hit – several times – and almost caused an accident. The two women, it turns out, weren’t the owners of the wayward pup, but good Samaritans who had both pulled their cars over to help.

By very good luck, one of a string of drivers we had stopped, as the frisky dog once again dashed into the road, handed a lead out her window without a word… as if she’d anticipated this scene when she prepared for her day. “She’s my neighbor,” said the primary good Samaritan. “She owns lots of dogs,” she added as she coerced this one to the sidewalk. She managed to roll him onto his back and work the leash around his neck while I indulged him in a belly rub, and then led him to the back of her Volvo. Since the dog seemed (understandably) reticent to relinquish his freedom and get in the car, even with me enthusiastically calling him from inside, the authoritative Samaritan wrapped her arms around his meaty body and hefted him in. Her plan was to take him to a local shelter where his microchip could be scanned (fingers crossed that he has one) so he could be returned to his owner and to the safety of his yard.

That was the end of the story for me and nearly the end of my walk, so I made it home in a few minutes and went on with my day. But the picture stuck in my head. It made me think of the gift of freedom. For those who have been bound, there is nothing sweeter. But there are two different kinds of freedom: One that is taken and one that is given. The first is the kind the world offers and it looks a lot like the dog’s experience yesterday. Whether out of innocent desire or outright rebellion, we sometimes believe that we should be allowed beyond the boundaries that confine our world and restrict our movement. Maybe we talk ourselves into believing that it’s the very thing our Master would want or maybe we think that he’s depriving us of something. Either way, we feel justified in jumping over, digging beneath or knocking down the fences that keep us in.

There is no doubt an initial sense of liberation and joy. We are free to go where we want, do what we please and not be subject to anyone else’s designs for us. What we don’t often realize though, like the playful pup, is that the fences are provided for our safety and that when we choose to go beyond them, we are putting ourselves and others in harm’s way. Even if we escape death, this kind of freedom will eventually leave us hungry and dirty, lonely and fearful, or terribly wounded.

It seems that after our willful choice to leave our Master’s home that we would deserve to be left to our own devices. But that’s not the way He sees it. He knows that no matter how we act, Home is the only place we belong. Unlike the good Samaritans of yesterday, though, he won’t force us. It has to be our own choice or we will just bust down the fence again. Instead, He is watching and waiting. The moment he sees our humbled hearts turn toward home, He will run to meet us so He can tenderly embrace us, fill our lonely hearts with His love, and heal our wounds with His gentle touch. He will bathe us to cleanse us of all our filth and shame, and He will nourish our bodies with the richest food. And He will return us to the boundaries He has lovingly prepared so that we will be once again be safe. It is the story of the prodigal son and one that couldn’t better define God’s heart for His pups who escape and wander… even when we do it time after time after time. He is always watching and He is always waiting. So let’s go home. 

In another post sometime soon, I will explore what it looks like to be given freedom. 


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