Location is Everything

Today was our annual trip with Kaiser and Cleo to get their rabies shot. Every year we carefully watch for the familiar red and white signs to pop up near the ball park announcing the date and time for the traveling veterinarian. It is the one opportunity for these two dogs to go for a ride. It’s both adventure and ordeal all rolled into one and it goes from one extreme to the other in the span of one short hour.

Kaiser and Cleo are big dogs—bull dogs, with both weighing in at over sixty pounds. They are good dogs, just big dogs with lots of energy and little tolerance for other dogs. This presents a bit of problem, which must be dealt with prior to our arrival at the traveling rabies clinic. We’ve learned to tie them on very short leashes in the back of the truck up near the cab and then station me between them. That means a lot of dog slobber and hair, as well as I end up smelling like a bull dog within a couple of minutes. It also means we park away from the crowd so that our dogs don’t bother their dogs, where I revel in more slobber and hair, while holding a bulldog in each hand.

This little adventure always begins the same way. Kaiser and Cleo live inside a fenced area. We don’t allow our dogs to run loose, although most of our neighbors do. This is a choice we have made for the safety of both our dogs and the ones running loose. God always uses this moment when the gate swings open to remind me of a lesson I learned several years ago.

Whenever the gates on these canines’ pens are opened—they make a mad break for freedom. Once through the gate, they go absolutely nuts. They tear through the yard making 360 degree turns at breakneck speed. They catch a whiff of every tree, bush, or plant in their immediate vicinity and do whatever it is dogs do. My point is, once that gate door opens they turn into a different set of dogs. They are free—no longer held in bondage behind a fence. No, now they can rip and snort and do what they think dogs were created to do. Sometimes they chase each other, sometimes they run in different directions, and sometimes they just roll around in one of our flower beds. Whatever they choose to do is light years better than anything they could ever do behind the fence.

I often try imagining what being so close yet so far away from total freedom must be like. How frustrating it must be to be separated by 3/8’s of an inch from the ability to go anywhere or do what whatever it is you want. That’s when God sort of pulled up a chair and had one of those come to Jesus meetings with me that we have on a somewhat regular basis.

We as people make a choice to either live free or in bondage. The responsibility and the blame rest with each of us. Our own sin becomes a fence that shuts us in and often shuts God out. None of us were created to live in sin—in bondage—or behind a fence. That fence separates us from the freedom Jesus secured for us on the cross. That fence is forged in the fires of disobedience and selfishness by us, and only repentance can open the gate. The latch is on the inside where the prisoner is, rather than on the outside. Whenever I refuse to confess my sin, the fence always grows higher and the yard steadily grows darker. But the very moment confession comes, the door swings open, and I can then run, jump, and scamper about like I was originally designed to do.

Every time Kaiser and Cleo squeeze through that crack in the gate and get loose, I’m reminded of what forgiveness looks and feels like. Perhaps you may need to make a break for the daylight shining through the crack in your gate. Freedom feels really good! Take a run, I guarantee you will enjoy it far more than the fleeting pleasures of sin behind the fence.