Our six-month-old puppy has a strong will. He’s a naturally happy, people-loving dog, but he has a mind of his own. While that’s not necessarily bad, it can get him into trouble. So we found ourselves at obedience school with him.
During the first two weeks of class, we focused on basic commands like sit and stay. But in week three, we learned what I saw as one of his most significant needs—the necessity of paying attention to us. We learned how to teach this important concept. Once he was sitting in front of us, we held his leash up straight so his gaze was focused on us. When he looked away, I was taught to give the leash a slight tug. If he continued to ignore me, I increased the force to bring his focus back to me.
The purpose of this lesson was two-fold. First, it taught the dog who his leader was and that he needed to do what he was told—even if he didn’t want to. The second reason was protection. His owner can see more than he can and can spot unseen dangers, like a car coming down the road, or an unfriendly dog. If he focuses on his owner and pays attention, he’ll be safe. If not, he risks getting hurt. Whether he’s distracted by other stimuli, or simply chooses to be stubborn, he increases his risk of harm.
I realized the same is true in my life. I’m like the puppy who’s still learning what to do in each situation. I can’t see everything around the corner or ahead of me, but I have a Heavenly Father who can. He sees the big picture. He is the Master who loves me and has my best interests in mind. So I need to trust him and follow his lead. As long as I do, He’ll keep me safe. But I have to pay attention.
Be obedient and focus on Him.
Ellen Andersen, a native of California, moved to Greenville, SC nine years ago. She is a member of the Upstate Fellowship of Christian Writers and An Author World in Greenville, SC. She serves as a Stephen Minister at her church and is involved in a women’s Bible study. She is working on a memoir detailing how God used unforeseen circumstances in her life to change her focus so she could minister to others to whom she could not otherwise relate.