And sometimes it’s also a very good place to start over.
I confess, I was pretty proud of the way she handled her test. There were five orange cones marking the stations where she had to perform a task at my command, and she completed them all, no sweat, just like a puppy pro. This morning I was thinking about the labels on each of those cones, and it suddenly struck me how much simpler my life would be if I’d practice those same skills with the Lord.
So, it’s back to remedial puppy class for me. Here’s what I need to learn all over again.
You’d think this would be an easy one, given the way I linger over my morning coffee. But for some reason, instead of sitting and waiting patiently for the Lord, sometimes I run full speed into my own plans and then expect God to follow behind as the divine blessing bestower. I know it doesn’t work that way, and I can’t imagine why I . . . Squirrel!
Oh, right. So that explains the second orange cone.
It’s all about focus. My eyes on His face, watching, listening, waiting. He is the never-changing, sovereign, loving King of the Universe, and I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for plans formed long ago. He’s not trying to trick me or frustrate me. He wants me to know and do His will, and He’s faithful to reveal it in His time. He also understands my weaknesses — that I’m made of dust and easily drawn away after my own lusts, and that’s why He’s given me the third instruction.
Just like Willow, I often have to walk past an array of tempting toys and treats to reach the next goal, but in His Word, God has clearly revealed what is and isn’t good for me. And I can trust He is always only good in every single “leave it” He demands, no matter how desperately I may think I want the forbidden thing. If God says, “leave it,” that means there is something unspeakably better for me — something for my very best good and His glory. But I won’t know what I’m supposed to leave if I don’t listen to what He says.
Which brings me to the next two commands.
COME and STAY.
Daily enter His presence in unhurried prayer. Abide in His Word. There is one Truth. One Authority. All around me a million voices shout a million opinions, but the only way I can know if they are reliable is to measure them against the Bible. And the only way I can consistently do that is to habitually marinate in it, beginning to end. I need to plant my feet on the one Rock — Jesus, the Living Word — to build my house on His unshakable foundation, and to refuse to budge, no matter what culture or popularity or anything else demands.
And then? I shall know the truth, and the truth shall make me free to follow the final instruction.
Once I master the basics — sit still and await His leading, keep my eyes fixed on Him, leave the lusts of the flesh behind, come into His presence in prayer, and abide in His Word — then I’m free to reach out and shake hands with the world, engaging others with sincere love and selfless abandonment. I’m free from fear of man and finally able to really see others with eyes that look beyond masks and masquerades. Free to truly listen without feeling threatened or offended or compelled to prove myself right. And free to extend a sincere hand of friendship or compassion or encouragement or even gentle confrontation, whatever is needful for the moment.
Sit. Watch me. Leave it. Come. Stay. Shake. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Basic training.
One thing’s for certain. It’s a very good place to start.