By Brenda Black
On a normal morning, my Labrador greets me bouncing gleefully. She knows we're going for a walk down the road if I step out of the house early, and shod in my Sauconies. It's her chance to sniff to her heart's content and follow that nose for short, excited road-side adventures. She gets to stretch aging legs that spend too much time on concrete where she lay trying to keep cool in this blistering heat. For me, it's a way to clear my mind for the work ahead and burn off calories before they touch my lips and hips. We make a pretty good team. But once in a great while, we are joined by another companion – the cat. Then the walk looks a whole lot different.
My dog understands the drill. She jogs along perfectly positioned ahead, alongside or behind. She is confident and knows the course we trod and paces herself according to my gait. The cat, on the other hand, doesn't have a clue. Yet she pretends to be in charge. So with every 10 steps I take, she bolts from behind, pounces ahead and inconveniently drops and rolls playfully right in my path. If I didn't know better, I'd think she was trying to kill me!
Before we finally reached home, I had scooped up the panting, far-less cocky cat and was hauling her little worn-out self the rest of the journey. She discovered she didn't know the way and she most certainly wasn't the leader.
Believers today can fall into any of these categories: the Faithful, Joyful, Confident Canine; the Determined Disciple; or the Know-it-All Kitty that trips the rest of us up and slows down the progress. Which are you?
The Book of John addresses each.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12) My dog knows the way because she follows her master consistently. She could walk it alone, but she never does. She'd rather walk it with me. Oh, to be a believer who spends so much time with the Savior that we know which way He's going and we long to stick near Him.
When we walk, I get time and space to talk with the Lord. Often, I simply listen. But just as it takes self-discipline to get up and get down that road early in the morning, likewise we are called to accept some pretty heavy doctrine from an omnipotent God. We are to believe even when it is hard to understand. It takes determination to be a disciple when the world is telling you that you are on the wrong path. John records in chapter 6 that Jesus turned some fickle followers off when they heard him speak of feeding on Himself. I'd have to admit that would be a bit hard interpret. But for those who grasped His eternal meaning, they became more than disciples – they became His children.
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'
“Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, 'Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe...' Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'” (Jn. 6:60-69)