For the months of June and July, I will publish a new blog post every other week instead of weekly. As always, thank you for reading, reflecting, and responding with me!
Living in a small-ish town has its perks. People know each other. People watch out for each other.
Living in a small-ish town also has its not-so-perky perks. People you don't know watch you closely. They form opinions. A stranger approaches you in the grocery store and states, "I'm afraid he's going to pull you down."
A can of black beans in one hand and a can of pinto beans in my other hand, I tilt my head and say, "Excuse me?"
"Your dog," the stranger says. "I see you walking him, and I'm afraid he's going to pull you down."
Given the long walks Isaac and I take around town, Grocery Store Stranger's comment suddenly makes more sense. I reassure this town watcher that the pup and I are more stable than we appear (unless a cat appears or there's ice on the ground--but those are stories for another post).
When Isaac and I started walking each other, my fear matched the stranger's. Strong in will and muscle, he and I had to learn to communicate with each other. In the archives are multiple posts about the joys and pitfalls of training Isaac. While we still have our unsteady moments, the walks are now more of a dance than a pulling match, thankfully.
What might surprise the stranger is that the few times I have stumbled with Isaac, the faltering was not his fault. He did not pull me down. Instead, he helped me to stay on my feet.
The first was on an uneven sidewalk. Looking up instead of down, I tripped and suddenly looked like a ski-less skier on a downhill slope. I jerked on the leash, and Isaac pulled forward. Because he kept walking at a steady pace, I was able to regain my footing.
The second time, I stepped in a hole. My mind was on work when one foot sunk into the grass. I yelped and tumbled softly onto my back. I held on tightly to the leash, and Isaac ran back to me. He licked my face, and with his eyes he asked, "Are you okay?"
The third time, I stepped on a muddy patch and slipped. Once again, holding onto his weight helped me put my weight back on my own two feet.
The strong-willed dog was not my stumbling block. He was my stronghold when I stumbled.
When troubles arises and we tumble around, we often search for a scapegoat --someone or something to blame. It would have been easy for someone like Grocery Store Stranger to watch from afar and say, "Your dog caused you to fall." I fell because sidewalks are cracked, I'm not paying attention, and mud is slippery. We all fall because life's paths are not perfect.
When my sister and I were growing up, we listened to a contemporary Christian band on the radio called David & The Giants. (Yes, that was their name). I don't remember much about them, but I do remember one song that stuck with both of us all these years. It said, "Lord, you never cease to amaze me. Your loving arms became a bridge of mercy. You turned my stumbling block into a stepping stone."
That prayer about stumbling blocks and stepping stones echoes in my memory. The experiences that we think will defeat us actually mature us. God is able to transform the worst into the best. The dog's strength is not what pulls us down but what helps us to grow stronger.
Let us take hold of the strong and mighty tower that is our Lord. Let us not live in fear of falling. Let us walk in confidence of being caught in those loving arms (or that loving leash) that will never let us go.
all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian (And Paw-stor Isaac)