We got a dog recently. Her name is Zoe. Her cuteness is helpful when I find myself up at 5:30am with her. Currently she is learning how to walk on a leash with me. This morning we were working on the concept of heel. There were a few moments of easy syncronization, her eyes directed towards mine as she trotted on my left hand side. The other 80% of the time was patiently waiting while she sniffed in various interesting spots, paused to watch a passing car or hopping bird, or just sat down unexpectedly. I have my agenda, she has hers, and sometimes they align.

We return home after the walk, she to her breakfast kibbies and I to my reading. Dipping into Oswald Chambers today (and for the past few days), I find a theme of shifting from self-realization to Christ pursuit. Here’s today notable quote:

“To fulfill God’s perfect design for me requires my total surrender – complete abandonment of myself to Him. Whenever I only want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. And I will suffer great humiliation once I come to acknowledge and understand that I have not really been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ himself, but only concerned with knowing what He has done for me.”

This sounds a heck of a lot like dog training. Like Zoe, I am easily distracted by the “passing cars” in my life. I would rather sit in the shade than heel. Compliance comes when a “treat” is offered rather than just because. We are similar in many ways.

As I think about dog training, training students in the classroom, or spiritual training it all comes down to the kind of relationship that is built. The potential for synergy, cooperation, beauty, learning and joy comes from that balance between trusting the authority and the teaching that comes from that authority. It takes time know that the master is good. It takes time to trust with total surrender. For me, there is comfort in the realization that training is constant and necessary for the good stuff to take place.

I can’t wait for the day when Zoe and I get up early in the morning and hit a trail together, without the need for a leash. Mutual adventure and exploration will be a joy. In the meantime, we train for that day just as I train to know Christ more and trust Him more. The relationship between master and follower will cease to be a distortion and move to syncronization..something beautiful to behold.

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