I’ve seen this particular verse more times than I can count, but after taking our Pomeranian, PomPom, outside this morning for her morning walk — I saw this in a special light:

“He makes me” and “He leads me” jumped out of this as if they were highlighted like I’ve highlighted them above.

And I thought of PomPom, who occasionally wants to go her own way or get herself into trouble when we take her outside to go potty or go for walks. My wife and daughter take her out on a leash to go outside, so they can make her behave and keep her out of trouble. I take her out and correct her by my voice and my presence alone. I pondered how this parallels the Lord’s guidance and what this verse is talking about.

I’m also reminded of a recent C. S. Lewis quote that came up in a group on Facebook dedicated to the author’s works, where the contemplative discussion was on God’s will versus our own will:

“No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it” jumps out to me in this quote, and I contemplate the distractions that our dog, PomPom, encounters wore regularly that would not bring her joy. Examples are:

  • She smells something especially stinky that she wants to roll in — but which would result in us having to wash her (for both health and cleanliness reasons since she is an indoor dog) that she does not enjoy having to endure, and each bath dries out her skin ands makes her itch more than usual.
  • She gets curious and wants to wander too far away — which could leave her exposed to the predatory hawks we have in the area who are not afraid to pluck a chicken, rabbit, or small dog even while people are nearby, or to the coyotes, or to traffic on the road — all of which would not be an enjoyable experience for her or for us.
  • She finds something that is not food that she wants to try eating — most of which is not healthy for her, will make her sick, and will have her wretching and puking later — which is not enjoyable to her, but is even less enjoyable if we must take her to the vet.

So when we see her being tempted, we make her do something different than her senses and feelings in the moment are screaming at her to do. Our heavenly Father seems to “make us” and “lead us” in similar ways beyond mere conscience or memory of previous consequences that could be dismissed as “self”. Wouldn’t it be foolish (and dangerous) for PomPom to think to herself if she saw an open door, “Cool, I go out there all the time and never face dangers. I don’t need them with me! I’m headed on an adventure! I can do all the things they never let me do!”

But can we admit to ourselves that this is sometimes how we treat God in His “making us” and “leading us”?

Isn’t this exactly what happened in the garden?

Isn’t this exactly what happened the last time that we decided to go at it “on our own” and leave God behind?

Sadly, this verse highlighted recently by Brian Morin speaks to the alternative to God’s leading:

So many men will follow their sensuality to “their condemnation from long ago” to “their destruction” rather than be led by God. What a sad thought for those who refuse to repent and believe that God’s way truly is best and that everything else is danger, hurt, sickness, and death. What a sad thought for those who oppose God’s will because of senses and feelings, but have no understanding that God does such things from a place of love, grace and mercy extended to us.

I’m reminded of this recent verse image created by JoAnn Reid:

And you may wonder, “What does love have to do with obedience?”

Everything!

A religious man who doesn’t know the Lord and doesn’t love the Lord or love others can look at precepts in the Bible and try to live by them — like a checklist to keep his life from running off the rails — and he can build a reputation as a wise man. But He might live his life under the burdensome and stressful strain of trying to live up to the whitewashed “brand” he is trying to sell to the world around him — advertising his good deeds, even while knowing that he is empty and dead on the inside. This is NOT The Way, this is NOT what Psalm 23 is talking about. This is NOT why I share from the Bible. Don’t settle for rolling in the stench of religion when you can be led by the Lord.

When you see what He has done for you on the cross, when you see that He is a good Father leading you because He loves you, when you see that remaining close with Him as much as possible — you will rest at his feet, you will be filled with joy every time that He “enters the room”, you will love the healthy food and treats He provides you. I look at how Pompom clings to me, and this is what we want with the Lord, this is what is best. This is what stirs up love to the point that a leash of law is no longer necessary, and that we live in love and trust.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:23‭-‬29 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/gal.3.23-29.ESV

What is better for PomPom than knowing how to look out for hawks and coyotes, and knowing how to avoid things that are bad for her on her own? Walking with her daddy, having me there with her to lead her — even in those times she might be tempted to head off into danger so that she can hear the correction and choose to listen, and learn that the voice is trustworthy.

Lord, make us and lead us as you will. We trust that you know best. Forgive us for those times when we haven’t trusted and have resisted your will and your correction. We trust that it is not to harm us, but is for our good — even when we might not understand in the moment. May your pure love for us be so contagious from our time with you that it changes us from being led away by our senses, feelings and desires — to long for more of your love and to show that love in everything we are and everything we do. Lord, only by you will we “get it right”. Help us. Amen.