Years ago, I set my iPad on the treadmill, started up a movie and pressed 2 for a warmup. I had just begun to punch the button to speed up when I hear a scuffle at the front door and my son calling me. Sighing, I paused my movie, turned the treadmill off and walked to the door.
Tears of frustration streamed down my son's face, and he flagged his hand toward the other side of the street. "Jasmine got away." He turned inside rubbing his leg and a little blue color spread across his cheek.
Didn't take much for me to figure out what happened. Jasmine, our two year old German shepherd had been looking for an opportunity to break out for the last couple of days. Even after a training session with my husband the day before, you could see that her 'down' was more of a 'ready-to-pounce' than a 'down'.
My exercise plan had been switched. Ensuring that my son and daughter (who also tried her hand at stopping the dog) were okay, I grabbed the leash, a baggie of chopped up wieners, and left on a walk to follow my dog through the streets of the town we lived in at the time.
I'd learned after a great deal of experience not to chase, just follow, and if at all possible, try to herd her away from the busy streets. And to pray. Pray that someone would help me catch her, because I won't be able to get near her. Pray that she didn't run in front of a vehicle and all the endless hassles that would create.
For Jasmine, it was all a game. She'd dart from yard to yard, say hello to all her doggy friends along the way, and chase a cat or two. She'd say hello to everyone she met, but if they reached down for her collar, she'd take flight. She would not be caught until she was good and ready.
After about a half hour of following and praying, I thought how much we are like her.
Sometimes, we become bored with our lives. We become antsy for adventure, fun, excitement...even the forbidden kind. While those who have authority over us might be able to illicit some obedience from us, we look for the opportunity to slip passed their legs and out into what we think is freedom and fun.
We do this even to God. He warns us. He trains us, but we're in 'pounce' mode, eyes forever wandering to that door just past where He stands. Then, when we think we have opportunity, we dart through the door, and the chase begins.
But God follows. He waits for us to come back to Him. Yes, He sees us. He watches as we dash away from Him, thinking to ourselves that we'll have the time of our lives. He sees the car of trouble that just misses us. He knows the kind people who attempt to turn us from our wander-lust.
And we are fully aware that He is waiting for us to return to Him.
I never left Jasmine. I couldn't. Many people have told me, just let her go, she'll return on her own. But I couldn't do it. I worried about the harm that might come both to her and to anyone whose path she crossed.
I've seen it happen. A man, trying to help, leaps at her. She escapes, leaving him with an injured shoulder. Cars breaking hard, swerving to avoid, and me cringing for fear an accident will happen. Then of course there is those obtuse characters who choose to swear at me for not having my dog under control. I suppose I deserved it.
When we run away from God, we do more than bring hurt to ourselves. We can hurt those who love us. Even as Jasmine hurt my son. We can hurt innocent bystanders, and we hurt God.
But God is so ever faithful and patient. He watches us and knows, and calls, and waits.
Toward the end of Jasmine's fun, she turned toward home. I began to simply walk, calling occasionally, but for the most part, just walking. At one point, she came to my heel but after a few steps bolted away, not quite ready to be caught.
I kept walking, whistling on occasion, but not chasing. Eventually a neighbor caught her, someone who grumbles and all but swears at me every time she gets out. I mumbled my thanks, hooked the leash onto Jasmine's collar and headed home.
Jasmine never got hurt on her adventures, but I feared she would. There is good reason why we didn't allow her to roam freely like she desired. For her safety, as well as others, we kept her in the house, the yard, or on the leash.
There is good reason why God gives us instructions on how to live wisely in His Word. He knows the trouble we can get into if we do whatever we desire. Maybe we can get out from under His care and have a good time and not get hurt, but the risk is there. Wisdom tells us it is better to obey His Word.
"When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil man,..." Proverbs 2:10-12a