Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Man, A Boy And A Dog - An Illustration Of Authority

Yesterday I was walking with my children to school. My wife was at home, sleeping a few extra minutes to make up for her late night studying. All of the children had left for school on their bicycles except for my 6 year old son, who still had to practice a bit more before he can go on his bike as well. It is a beautiful March here in Montreal, with a very early Spring. I have never seen flowers showing up in March before. We usually have a couple of feet of snow still covering the ground but instead, today we will be enjoying 25 degree weather (Celsius).

As we were getting ready to leave my son asked if he could walk our dog. We have a beautiful Standard Poodle who I bring along each morning so she can get some exercise. She has recently given birth to 8 puppies and hasn't been getting out much. She and I both enjoy the walk. In fact, she is a great dog to walk. She stays by my side the entire time, and although she is on a leash, she seldom pulls on it. She will stop when I stop and walk when I walk. She is calm and mature.

I told my son that he could walk her, because I was going to be right beside him. She's almost as big as he is. But as we were getting ready to go I stopped to adjust something. When I looked up he and the dog were disappearing around the first corner. I picked up my pace to catch up but I wasn't too worried about it. His older brother, who had also elected to walk and who was walking with a friend, was just behind him. I also knew that his other older brother, who was on a bicycle, was just over on the next street, stopping to pick up a friend.

When I rounded the corner I found my six year old at the end of the block, calmly holding the dog's leash, as they waited to cross the street with the older brother. The problem started after they crossed the street and started down the opposite sidewalk.

Suddenly my six year old took off running with our dog running in front of him. I assumed that he had seen his other older brother and was running to show him what a big boy he was walking the dog. I was now on the same side of the street as the others and could see my son running faster than I had ever seen him running before. I was amazed to see his legs moving so quickly and thought to myself that he was going to end up on his face.

That's when his screams reached my ears.

I wasn't sure what it was at first. I thought it sounded like something that was very familiar to me but somehow distorted. Then I could make out the words. It was a very panicked voice of a crying boy who was screaming, Help! over and over and over. I quickly realized that my son was no longer in control but was instead now being led by the dog and they were out of control.

I yelled to my other son who was much closer to a rescue than I was, but he was too engrossed in his conversation to hear my calls or his brother's screams. So I started running with my wife's large computer bag in tow. It was on wheels.

It must have looked like something from a comedy sketch. A dog running down the side walk in break-neck speed with a screaming, flailing, panicked boy behind her, with a man in pursuit who was also rushing down the sidewalk, with a rolling computer flying behind him, yelling at the boy to drop the leash (in between fits of laughter I say to my shame).

It was at this point that my other son, who had heard his brother's frantic cries for help, came running across the street and planted himself in the path of the runaway dog. Of course the dog stopped and my six year old collapsed in a heap of breathless tears. When I finally reached his side and asked him if he was okay, this dear sweet six year old son looked very sincerely at me, with tears streaming down his face while clutching his chest and said, "I thought I was going to have a heart attack".

The problem was, my son did not know the authority he had over the dog. If he had stopped the dog would have stopped. If he had dropped the leash the dog would have stopped. Instead, the faster my son ran to catch up to the dog the faster the dog thought he was being given permission to run. My son was enabling the dog to pull him out of control to the point where he became panicky and could have seriously injured himself. Yet, all he had to do was stop and everything would have returned to normal.

It hit me that this was a perfect illustration for what we have been teaching our church recently on our authority in Jesus Christ. Too often our lives get out of control because of various circumstances, including finances, disease and relationships. We either panic or we throw ourselves into the great pit of despair. Everything seems like it is whirling out of control and we don't think it will every stop. Yet, it is us that is enabling these things to lead us out of control. The truth is, it is we who have the control.

Jesus has given us authority over these things and they must do exactly what we say because of that authority. Let me repeat that: They must be obedient because of the authority of Jesus in us. When we stop they stop. When we let go of their connection to us they no longer have any control over us. It is amazing how quickly everything slows down and comes into line when we use the authority we have been given. It is a lie to think that circumstances, disease and health have any authority over us. The only authority over us is Jesus and he in turn has given us authority over these things.

Unfortunately, too many of us act more like six year old children, without the maturity to understand the authority we have through Jesus Christ. Instead we spend our days arguing with people about this authority. We are refusing to grow up, to take our place as a "son" of God, and would rather excuse away our lack of power and authority. We are condemning ourselves to a life being pulled around by dogs instead of a life of joy, peace, power and love. As I often say, it really is time for us to grow up and discover who we are in Christ Jesus.
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