Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . . —Hebrews 12:2a
My 1-year-old Border collie mix, Biscuit, has perfected a full-mouth smile. But until recently, he wouldn’t smile while walking along a brief stretch of a six-lane thoroughfare we take to get to a favorite walking path. I persevered with training to help him focus, something his dominant breed does especially well. Eventually I noticed a new development: Biscuit smiling at me the whole time we walked that stretch of road.
At first, Biscuit had been anxious because he couldn’t see the traffic moving toward us. His protective nature would lead him to warn me of the danger by jumping up the backs of my legs to get me to turn around. I feared he would eventually make me fall, causing both of us to get hurt.
“How did Biscuit do today?” my husband would ask in what seemed like pointless optimism. Truth was, his behavior could generally be rated on a scale of fairly awful to truly terrible. I began to lose hope Biscuit would ever become a good walking companion. I thought about giving up. But Biscuit is an athletic dog and requires a lot of exercise. I had to find a solution.
Our trainer—a man who works with Scotland Yard police dogs—encouraged me to carry correction spray, which emits a hiss designed to redirect behavior. I wasn’t thrilled about carrying a can with me when I already had my hands full of puppy, but it was my last hope, and it worked. Before long, Biscuit became excited for our walks. He became more relaxed. And now he smiles while looking up at me the whole time.
That made me wonder how many times in my life the Lord has led me on what should be a familiar path, and I have reacted with fear instead of faith. I wonder how many times has He been there to guide and protect me, but I chose to trust my own knowledge or instincts. And how many times has He had to correct me and remind me to focus on Him instead of the chaos around me?
He leads me on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.—Psalm 23:3b
It hadn’t been enough for Biscuit to know I was beside him. He needed guidance and correction. He needed experience. He needed to build trust and confidence. The fear may still be there, but his focus has changed. He has learned to trust his master. So, too, should I trust mine.
Lord, let me know You are beside me. Let me allow You to guide me. Let me trust Your hand and Your heart. Even, and especially, when I’m afraid, let me look to You and experience Your peace, Your comfort and Your joy. Lead me in ways everlasting. Amen.