Essay / Misc.

Getting Free

John Mark Reynolds, 2005.

Last summer our dog, Aristotle, died. It had been my fourteen year old son’s boyhood companion. I can close my eyes and see L.D. being dragged around the block by a young Aristotle. The dog was bigger than the boy! One day, and it happened all at once, he was much bigger than Aristotle and was dragging the dog around the block. He was very ill and one day he simply died. We were all very sad and it has taken a long time to want to fill that empty place.

Now we are looking for a new dog (hoping for a Corgi) and visited the local kill shelter to check out the dogs there. My son was eager to adopt and I was happy to let him take an animal home. However, as we passed dog after dog they began to act up and growl. Some would launch themselves against the cage. None of them went home. They could not overcome past hurts and bad training to go home to a lad who would love them.

God did not have to shout to get my attention. He reminded me, as I stood there in the pound getting ready to go, that I face the same kind of choice as the dogs of the pound. There is a loving God ready to take me Home. It will be good. However, past training and hurts, and my own foul nature, often cause me to growl at the good things he brings to me. I reject what is best for me and so stay facing death.

The odd thing is that the dogs seem gratified as we left. They had proved their superiority. They had forced the stupid bipeds (and aren’t all bipeds out to harm dogs?) to flee. Wise, wise dogs. You can imagine the cynical older street dog advising a young puppy, “See! We can make them run! Nobody is going to tie cans to my tail again. Look, we get meals here and the cage is clean. Take no risks.”

And so it is in our culture. The wise guys in the academy tell us to be cynical and keep others at a distance. We can do that. We will even appear to be wise, but at night we will still be behind the steel mesh in our lonely cages. God’s good messengers will turn sadly away.

John Paul the Great frequently told us, “Don’t be afraid!” That is good advice. Most of the reactions we have to God’s good gifts are from fear. We have been hurt. We have received a bad secular education that makes us think the Universe one big Kill Center. In our fear, we make the situation worse. My goal for this week is to relax, stop being afraid, and to allow my heavenly Father to be good to me.

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