I was walking my dog, Indy, this afternoon. We walk together often and always along the way, he stops to smell EVERYTHING. Sometimes I let him sniff, and sometimes I hurry him along. It depends on where we are, our time frame, and how hard he pulls to smell whatever stink has interested him at the moment.
Today, as he often does, he found an enticing bit of food trash near a construction site. Unfortunately, this food was surrounded by plastic wrap. Not having the wherewithal the understand that the plastic is not edible, Indy scooped the whole thing into his mouth, mid-jaunt, in the hopes that it would go unnoticed. Much to his chagrin, I did notice. I reached down to pull it from his mouth, at which point he growled at me.
We have had this issue with Indy in the past – he grabs something and clamps down on it, unwilling to let go. I don’t know if it is so much the desire for the item, or the desire to win the confrontation – or if it is a combination of the two. Either way, it is not something that he has done recently, so I was surprised and I quickly pulled back.
We continued on our walk – me with the leash as short as it could be and still walk comfortably, and Indy, still with the piece of trash clamped tightly between his teeth. Every once in a while, he would flip his head back and shift it to the other side, still not willing to let it go. As we continued the walk, drool dripped from his jowls, since he was unable to swallow. I kept a close eye on him, knowing I needed to pull him away should the garbage happen to drop from his clenched teeth. He, too, kept his eyes on me – darting furtive glances to see if I was watching him, and then he would quickly shift of the trash to the other side of his mouth.
As I watched him, my anger and frustration grew. I realized this must be how we are with God. We pick up trash and carry it around with us – it might be a bad habit, it might be an attitude, it might be anger or frustration with a situation, or it might simply be worry. I know I have been guilty of that on more than one occasion – I fixate on a concern and I ask God to handle it – I then I won’t let it go. Sometimes I growl at Him when he tries to take it away. It is garbage – and it’s not good for me. It holds me back from being who God wants me to be and what He wants for me.
By the end of the hour-long walk, the drool was pouring out the sides of Indy’s mouth and he was panting, as heavily as he could without opening his mouth. I offered good things to him and he still wouldn’t let go. I pleaded, poked, prodded, and cajoled – all to no avail. The result was more growling. More disobedience. More holding on to something that is not only “not good” – it is potentially very harmful.
Eventually, with love and patience and some gentle coaxing, Indy dropped the plastic. My husband quickly snatched it before Indy had the opportunity to know what he’d done. He looked around and spied the ice cube I’d been using to entice him. He plopped down in the grass and began gnawing on the ice – something much better for him than the trash on which he had been fixated.
In much the same way, God wants us to lay down our burdens – our trash – at His feet. He has something so much better for us – better than we typically can imagine – and yet in our selfishness, we often prefer to hang onto the garbage.
Father God – help me to wholeheartedly put down the garbage and desire only the good things you have in store for me. I pray that for all who read this as well.