Is FEAR halting your journey with Christ?
The Rod, the Staff and the Easy Walker
My family has a dog named GINGER. She was bought for the kids, but ended up really being my husband’s dog that he and/or I walk.
My experience walking her has not always been pleasant. She’s a hyper labradoodle. And until she was four, she was incredibly unwieldy on a collar and leash. Even today, on a normal collar and leash, she is not a good walker. She pulls constantly and vigorously. She tries to get way ahead of me and she yanks off of the path following all kinds of scents and smells. She’s not focused on her walk. She makes walking (with her) very miserable … to the extent that at one point I had stopped taking her out.
Fortunately for her I happened on an ‘Easy Leader’ harness a few years back and was caught up in the promise that if it didn’t solve the ‘pulling/tugging’ problem I would get my money back. I purchased one and I must say that the improvement was immediate and has been long-lasting. It’s a deal that goes around the front part of her body and under her legs. I hook the leash well below her chin… sorta around her chest bone.
When she walks, she remains next to me with just a bit of slack in the leash. She looks at me constantly. I think that she is looking to see where I am going to lead her. The ‘Easy Leader’ has changed our walks. She remains on the path right by my side and no longer rushes ahead or lunges right or left.
Well, I have a new problem with walking the Ginger dog. Just under a mile into the walking path we come to a section of the road that has two houses opposite each other. On the left lives a fairly young Golden Retriever who is aggressive and yappy. On the right lives a horrible, barky, territorial Australian Shepherd. Both live behind invisible electric fences. On the occasion when both dogs are out it is a horribly noisy and stressful walk through that ‘valley of the shadow of death’. Ginger is quite pensive and scared. I talk to her and say things like ‘Its okay. You’re going to be fine’… but I suppose as a testament of our ‘not-so-close relationship’ she doesn’t seem to believe me; trust me or have faith that I will protect her. Eventually, she began to stop/sit down right before we came to that part of the walk. Several times I was able to coax her and pull her through to prove that she would not be harmed. Finally it came to the point where she would just sit and no matter how hard I would pull or how sweetly I would speak to her she would not budge until I turned the 180 degrees and began to walk back toward home.
Her fear has grown to the point that now when we leave our driveway and I turn left on my normal path, she will only go down two mail boxes and then put her ears back and sit down. She refuses to go that way. No amount of pulling or encouraging can convince her to proceed. Generally, I march her back up to the house and leave her in the hallway while I proceed with my walk.
Fear has stopped her journey. She does not trust her ‘master’ to protect her thus she is not able to continue walking.
Has fear ever stopped your journey?
The Holy Spirit prompted me to consider such questions as …
- Does my fear of the walk through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ impede my walk with Christ?
- Does fear separate me from my Master? – if even for a short time?
- Does fear indicate that I do not trust my Master?
- Does fear make me ‘stop’ everything I’m doing and just sit still – paralyzed?
- Does fear take away from my journey and from the experiences of the day?
- Does it keep me from getting to the good part of my walk?
- Does it keep me from enjoying the joy of the moment during my walk with Christ?
I am not unlike our dog, Ginger. So much of the time I’m fighting the regular collar and leash. Sometimes I pull and yank and try to get ahead of my Master. Going this way and that… and when I’m scared, I’m likely to sit paralyzed. I just sit and won’t move… do anything… take any action.
I need to embrace the rod and staff method (aka ‘Easy Walker’) that is mentioned in the 23 Psalm AND trust my Master.
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Which is your relationship with your Master? Are you on a normal collar and leash… where you are in a constant state of frustration trying to lead when He wants you to follow? Are you pulling and tugging trying to go your own way? Or are you on a ‘Easy Leader’ harness where he has you securely tethered to His side… where you are obediently remaining next to him… looking up at him as you walk side by side.
Are you able to trust Jesus to the point that you do not allow your journey to be sidetracked, slowed or halted because of fear? Are you trusting not only in your Master, but also in his rod and staff that correct and protect?
William Barclay from Jesus As They Saw Him:
He [the shepherd] had his rod and his staff. The staff was a long crooked stick. Always the shepherd walked with it in his hand, and, when a sheep showed signs of straying, he would stretch out and pull it back with the crook. He carried the rod at his belt. It was a stout piece of wood, perhaps three feet long, with a lump of wood the size of an orange at one end of it. With this the shepherd fought the battles of the flock, using it to drive off wild beasts and to defend the flock against the robbers who would steal the sheep.
I am challenging myself to remain tethered with the ‘Easy Leader’ harness and to completely trust my Master as He walks with me through this day, week and the future. No pulling, no yanking, no sitting paralyzed… just walk side by side and looking up at Him constantly… watching to see where He is going to lead me.
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