Walks are among his favorite things. Posing the question and rattling the keys is all it takes to get an energetic and enthusiastic response from my little dog. He’ll beat me to the door, the gate and the car in anticipation of what is to come, eagerly watching out the window for his first glimpse of our familiar trails.
Depending on the demands of the day, our walks occur at varied times. So it was one late afternoon that I decided we still had time to fit it in. We got to our destination, hit the trail and set out on our adventure … at least for a short distance.
Unless there is the element of traffic or a park filled with activity, CJ is not leashed because he is steadfast in his willingness to trot along beside me and vigilant to keep me in sight if he explores a bit. This particular day, the wooded trail was absent of people so I didn’t bother taking the leash out of the car, reasoning that at his weight of 14 pounds, any unexpected encounters would be remedied by simply sweeping him up into my arms. That was my thinking, but apparently not his.
Ten minutes into the walk we approached a more dense area and he stopped, apprehensive to go further. From the time he was a pup, shadowy woods made him uneasy and, though we still had sunlight, it was dimming. It became obvious that no amount of encouragement would sway him. Determine to complete our hike before we lost light, I turned and headed back to the car to get the leash, hooked him up and retraced ours steps to the location that had caused his anxiety. But an amazing change had come over him. The darkening forest no longer posed a threat because he knew he was connected to me. That security gave him the courage he needed and he not only walked, he led.
I pondered his reaction and realized there was a spiritual application in our hike.
I had been carrying fears and burdens that were immobilizing me and recognized the courage I needed to move forward was only possible by connecting to the One I know as Lord and Master. I had allowed concerns and demands to disrupt the connection of walking with Jesus and anxiety was the result.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
Being yoked with Jesus eases burdens that are just too heavy to carry alone. Though I knew that truth, I wasn’t applying it and so, like my little dog, I was apprehensive by what was before me. He was quicker to accept his need that I was. He had no pride to get in the way. He was just himself, wanting the security of being attached to the one that had proven faithful to love and care for him. It was the simplest show of trust.
Our greatest peace comes from our willingness to be bound to the Savior and trust His perfect leading. With Him, we cannot go astray because Jesus is the Way; we will not be deceived because He is the Truth and we will not be destroyed because He is the Life. When the path leads through shadowy places where fears assail and trials loom, we will find strengthening in the assurance of His words, “I am with you always”.
These days CJ and I don’t go for walks without a leash handy because we’re both happiest when we’re connected to the Master.