I love my dogs, but there are days…
Most recently, I suspect that one of them has figured out how to open the back door. It’s not easy, but it is do-able. When I came home from church on Saturday evening, I had a message from the Oakwood police informing me my dogs were outside barking and my door was standing open. Fortunately, they were kind enough to get them back inside and shut the door for me. Someone with a little less patience might have been less gentle with my canine companions. The next day, the same thing happened again.
There is one thing I have learned about dogs (which holds true for pretty much any animal): they don’t have a tremendous amount of self-control. They can be trained to behave in certain ways – but if they know there is fresh garbage in the compost pile next door, they aren’t above opening the door when I’m not home to go and check it out.
Self-control and self-consciousness are not traits normally associated with animals. Unfortunately, they are traits that often rare in human beings, as well. Too often we act like water coursing down a hill and take the path of least resistance. In the face of temptation, we allow our baser, animal cravings to win the day. In times of trial, we give up rather than go on. In times of change, we drop out rather than face new situations or people with whom we may not be comfortable. In times when we are offended or hurt, we choose to nurse our anger rather than forgive.
You’ll never see water go uphill or up and over a barrier; it finds the easiest way through and continues on its way to the lowest possible location. Christians, on the other hand, are sometimes called to move against the grain. We are called to “fix our eyes on Jesus” and to keep moving in that direction no matter where it might take us or what obstacles might stand in our way.
Therefore, if we are too comfortable with our faith or service – if there is no place where we are experiencing some tension or growing pains – then that probably means we are moving in the path of least resistance. It becomes our default position, because it’s what comes most naturally. But, to experience harmony with God, it is simply not good enough.
During this Lenten season, it is my prayer that we all try to stretch ourselves a little more in whatever ways God is calling. It might mean deepening our spiritual life or reactivating our membership in the church. It might mean moving toward a more committed stewardship or forgiving someone who has hurt us. In whatever ways God is calling, let us follow in courage and faith that we may grow more into the fullness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.