Recently, I have been back in the routine of taking our spunky, 4 year-old pup, Reggie, on walks after dinner. It’s a time for me to decompress, exercise, and give him some well-deserved attention.
Tonight, as we started out, we came upon a few deer, and got quite close since they chose to stand still and we had to pass by. I whispered some encouraging words like, “Stay with Mama”, and, “Good boy, Reggie!” To my surprise, he maintained a composure I have not yet seen. It was like the deer were simply part of the scenery, and not creatures to be tempted to chase. It is not unusual for him to pull relentlessly on my arm only to get a few feet away before the deer dash away into the woods.
Tonight, however, the rest of our walk was very calm, and it got me to thinking about my guidance with Reggie, is a lot like God’s guidance with us—-With one glaring difference: there is NO leash between God and us.
As we walked, my words directed him, and my pulling forced him to keep moving where I wanted him to go.......
In our lives, the parallel I saw tonight was that God is a God of free choice. He never forces His love on us. Instead, once we choose to love Him, we determine how “tethered” we become to Him. You are the only one who determines the depth of your relationship with Him.
This free choice means we also choose for ourselves what gets our attention, our money, and our time.
For me, personally, being in a relationship with Jesus means it is a growing and developing relationship...through regular reading and studying of the Bible. As I have matured, I have heartily embraced(although imperfectly at times) the following verses:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:23-27 NIV
It does matter what you read, watch, consume, and say——especially if you are a Christ-follower. In my life, I have felt the need to simply restrict myself from watching anything rated R. Not because I am a goody-two-shoes or “Holier than thou”. It has been a refining process for me to elicit some self-control all with the purpose of guarding my heart. Along the way in that refining process, I have cut ties with much of the current Top 40 radio and eating an entire bag of sour cream and cheddar chips in one sitting. At times, I have retreated from Facebook- as it can become a comparison trap. None of these things will condemn you to hell, but chances are,if you are not carefully consuming it, you may be mindlessly consuming it.
Likewise, with my children a captive audience, I need for them to see that just because something is available doesn’t mean it needs to be automatically taken in. I hope they will have enough scrutiny some day to ask themselves some valued questions: “Will this be good for me?” “Will this bring me closer to Jesus?” “Do I believe this?”
Listen —-just like Reggie and the deer he encounters, there will always be an instinctual temptation for him to chase after them.... we will always have things of this Earth that seem to have their grip on us (I still hold a certain affection for chocolate cake and People magazine.)
My prayer for you is that you, just like me, go through some refining to guard your heart. Sometimes that can be difficult or even pain filled, depending on your hang-ups.
Take heart, friend, Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Another gem of truth is found in 1 John 2:15-16:“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
After all, if you profess to know and love Jesus, your life should reflect just that—openly and behind closed doors.
Sending much love to you this evening. ❤️