An unpleasant experience at the airport inspired this post. I took my ‘adorable’ Shitzu puppy, sedated and crated, to the check in counter to pay for his ticket. On the brief walk from the entrance to the counter we passed a number of leashed animals in line as well as kids and passengers. Apparently Benadryl and puppy calming chews were not sufficient to overcome the deep instinctive pull of curiosity and defensive posturing. I was warned by the check in lady that there is a zero tolerance policy for noisy dogs, my response being “I am sure he will calm down.” I mean, we had flown just a couple months earlier with no problem. And he did. Then we went through security, whereupon he was removed from his crate (which he definitely viewed as a prison) and carried through the scanner without leash or collar. By this time any calming effects of the drugs seemed to have been reversed, and after releashing and collaring Mr. Defcon 2, the amusing (to onlookers) process of putting him back in the travel crate began. Let’s just say it was like putting toothpaste back into the tube. When finally accomplished, we strolled about for a bit while he used teeth and claws to attempt escape. Foolishly I unzipped the top slightly to attempt to calm him with my touch, but with a hulk-like force he pushed his head out, unzipping the top. By now people were watching this fiasco with a mixture of amusement and annoyance and I was mortified. His cries had reached the ears of the airline employee in charge of boarding, who repeated the warning that there is no barking allowed. I mumbled something about the drugs kicking in, which they never did until later that day when he was safe at home with my sister. She kindly raced down to the airport to pick him up just in time for me to board the next flight – alone. I was wondering where all the rest of the quiet animals had disappeared to, and what kind of medicine they had received. I wanted some!
It reminded me of much of my life with the Lord – Him putting boundaries around me, and me trying desperately to escape to familiar and comfortable territory. He did warn one would-be follower that “foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Being a disciple requires abandoning familiar comfort zones for unfamiliar responses and attitudes. So much of Jesus’ life in us is foreign to our natural ways, so retraining by the Master is a requirement. “If any man will come after Me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me”. Jesus’ invitation to life leads us through the gateway of death – ‘come and die’ is the path the disciples resisted. Peter said ‘No, Lord!” and so do we.
Knowing that the flesh struggles against the spirit, and wanting the Lord’s ultimate commendation “Well done” I have prayed, “Lord, take me to the cross to teach me Your ways, even if I go kicking and screaming. And please don’t listen to my pleas for escape on the way!” He has taken me at my word, not only collared and leashed me, but sometimes doing a little crate training to keep me in His paths of righteousness. “Whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” But like Bowdrie, I resist sometimes with all that’s in me. Freedom is not necessarily liberty.
Case in point. Bowdrie got his way. I will never forget his cute little face, tongue out, smiling as dogs do, as we waited at the curb for my sister. As he pranced up and down, leashed of course, he thought he had won. He was released. He was free and back in his comfort zone, sniffing the air and barking at passing vehicles. But when one certain car pulled up he was unceremoniously thrown into the back seat and whisked away, back to home and all its familiarity – except that his beloved master was gone. He likes my sister, so it wasn’t horrible, but he was destined for a week of pampering and frolic with my grandkids. He missed out, and so did I.
Hopefully this story will inspire you to welcome and invite the Lord’s interference into your comfort zones, to pay attention to even the slightest resistance to His promptings to become better ambassadors for His kingdom. Let’s not settle for the good when we can have the best.