I spent my lunch hour Thursday walking through campus, praying and thinking. This weekend was Mizzou’s 100th Homecoming celebration, so there was a ton of activity everywhere I walked. Of course, all that activity distracted me from praying, so I finally decided to rest on a bench at Peace Park. Most of the trees are still green there and the sunlight filtered through them in a beautiful and relaxing way, sparkling on the water running through the creek.
My heart didn’t feel quite so tranquil, but I found the space that was needed to pour those heart cries out to God.
A guy was there with his dog, playing fetch. The shepherd was focused on his master and diligently retrieved the ball repeatedly…most of the time. Every now and then, there would be a distracting smell to check out and he’d lose sight of the ball. The creek was so much fun to splash through, too. The master would have to come close by and redirect, sometimes calling the dog’s name and pointing to the ball. Other times, when the dog was clearly not paying any mind, he would raise his voice and call out sharply to get obedience from the dog.
In that moment, I was struck with the similarity to my relationship with God. He has good things planned for me – an afternoon in the park, but I refuse to follow his direction, distracted by a million things that seem more interesting to me. When my heart, my attention, is on the Lord, we have “fun” (why does it feel odd to refer to having fun with God?). There’s the easy fellowship of a right relationship.
My agitated heart comes when I decide I want to my own thing, go my own way, play my own game. If I stayed obedient, I would still be having fun; but instead I’m sulking in the corner miserably, stubbornly holding onto MY thing. What a simple, yet profound lesson! To regain the joyful and happy heart that I so miss, I need only to return to obeying my master.
Two days later, I’m still chewing on this idea and thus far, my theory holds true. At Karis Church this morning, I felt more completely enveloped in worship than I have in a long time, simply by letting go of my right to chase the enticing smells that distract and willingly following God’s agenda for the day.
I know there’s brokenness in the world that affects us without our choice, but today I’m referring to the times that we purposely stray and create our own misery in the process. Think of your life. Are there distractions that you’re allowing to pull you away from the good that God has planned for you? Choose to play fetch today and enjoy the blessings of an obedient heart.