Staying in the Yard

“Remember, a dogs behavior is a reflection of your own.”

Those were the words of Caesar Milan this morning as I was watching The Dog Whisperer. I always joke that God gave me this dog to teach me patience. The more I interact with Cooper, I do think that God is showing me just how patient He was and continues to be with me.

Why can’t he just stay in the yard?

We have over an acre of land and half of that is fenced. The first dog we had (Muddy) was a rescue dog who had been badly abused before he came to us. He required a lot of TLC and after a few months he relaxed and was 100% at ease in our home with our family. He was so at ease that he had no desire to leave the yard. We could open up the double gate to drive the mower into the front yard and leave it open. He would just lay in the grass and enjoy the sun. He had absolutely no desire to roam or run.

Cooper, on the other hand, is a very different dog. He was a rescue as well- but, he joined our family at a young age. He grew up here and doesn’t know how good he has it. He loves to hunt rabbits …but, for some reason the rabbits in our fenced in yard are not good enough. A half acre of chain-link fencing is a lot! We tried to put bottom rails on the sections where he was escaping, but he would just find a new place so that wasn’t working. He is part beagle, so a shock collar and invisible fencing would not work. (We watched our neighbor and his beagle struggle with that for a few years. He would “yip” when he was shocked and then walk down the road…free as a bird.) It’s frustrating! Our yard is great. There are rabbits, lots of room to run and it’s safe.

I have come to view this on a personal level…from the perspective of a kid who grew up going to church and hearing about Jesus from a young age. Personally, growing up in God’s house, I didn’t really appreciate forgiveness in Christ. That’s hard to say out loud. I appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice infinitely more now and I am extremely uncomfortable when I an drifting. I am much more at peace when I am leaning into the Lord than when I am trying to do things on my own. It’s a daily course correction, but I love to rest in the protective area the Lord has laid out for me. But, in hindsight I can acknowledge that I had a shallow relationship with the Lord when I was young.

A relationship with God is not restrictive. He has laid out some hedges…fencing if you will….for protection. That’s where the Ten Commandments come in as well as any scripture that tells me to not be anxious, forgive as you’re forgiven, put on HIS armor and fight with spiritual weapons and not weapons of my own. God’s word is full of promises that I can claim and enjoy when I “stay in the yard”. When I stray and get outside of God’s will for me…that’s when I get myself into trouble. Don’t get me wrong-there can be trouble inside that fencing. We live in a fallen world, but the Lord gives me peace when I am with Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

As far as the dogs go…there have been times when possum or raccoon have entered the yard and scuffled with the dogs. Both times, the dog came in and stood next to my husband…growled…and pointed at the door until he went to investigate. Trouble came into the yard, but both dogs came to their authority right away because they knew where their protection came from.

 

Why couldn’t I just stay in the yard?

Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer that you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. – Unknown

Every time I hear that quote, my only response is to shake my head and say “Amen”. It’s true. Don’t leave the yard.  Please, please -young Christian- don’t leave the yard.

On the flip side- our sweet little abused Muddy dog KNEW how good he had it. He had been rescued and given a new life. He had been chained up and beaten, but  when he came to us he was fed and loved. The gate was open and he was free to choose, but he knew what life outside of our home looked like and he never wanted to go anywhere else. If I am to draw anything positive from my life as a prodigal…it’s that. I don’t ever want to leave God’s presence and I pray that I don’t become apathetic or lackadaisical ever again.

Yes, God brought Cooper to our home to remind me how patient he was with me.

Lord, thank you for examples and pictures you place in my path to remind me of your presence and care for me. Thank you for patience, protection and forgiveness.

In Jesus’ precious name- Amen!

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