I was bitten once, not long after we arrived here. I rearranged my walking route to avoid that street! I occasionally pick up a stick when I see an unfamiliar dog. Once I was followed on the high school track; six dogs were trailing me in this fenced area. I planned my escape onto a retaining wall, figuring I could kick them off the narrow ledge one by one. As it turned out, I growled at them and stomped my feet; they dispersed into the neighboring area pretty easily.
This past week, though, I noticed something curious. I was walking by two dogs that were chained up when a loose dog came tearing through their yard. The chained dogs strained at their chains, barking madly, while the loose dog almost pranced just out of their reach. He dashed off down the road after he passed the chained dogs.
At first glance, it's easy to feel sorry for the chained dogs. After all, the other guy got to go wherever he wanted, right? But as the loose dog raced off, I caught a glimpse of how skinny he was... and his fur was matted and ragged.
I looked over at the chained dogs. Each had a doghouse, a water bowl, a food bowl, shade, and a long chain. Neither was skinny... or matted...
And I thought about how God's Ways... Like in Psalm 18:21: "For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not turned from my God to follow evil." And in Isaiah 55:9: "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways..."
For some people, following God's Ways seems to be a restriction... a tying up. Being "free" for them often means pursuing the pleasures of the flesh... to the point of the destruction of relationships, health, and even life itself. The ways of the world appear to promise fun and excitement.... but they do not offer Joy. Not the kind of joy I have in knowing that I am resting in the care of the Almighty. I am given the kind of Joy and Rest that only God can offer, only Jesus can redeem, only the Holy Spirit can lead me to.
I used to spend much of my attention on what others thought, on how I was perceived, and on how much fun I could claim as my own. Now I am at peace with my place in the world. I don't seek attention; in fact, I prefer to serve quietly. And the fun I find in my life overflows every day: playing with our daughter and her friends; teaching our wee one; taking kids out into the wilderness of this beautiful place; creating glass to glorify my Lord. I am more at peace than I ever dreamed was possible. I am freer to love and serve than I ever imagined I could be.
Happy to be "tied up" with God.