When you gonna get that boy a dog?” I stood once again looking into the eyes of our son’s Sunday School teacher who loved to egg us on. This had been Darren’s prayer request every Sunday morning for months.  And his teacher enjoyed laying on the guilt.  We felt terrible.  But, truth be known, we just didn’t want another dog.  Our track record with previous canine had been horrendous. We were not about to repeat the pattern.  No way.  No more dogs!  No matter how much our son pleaded.  Or how strong his weekly prayer request made us feel like bad parents.

But the fact is, God responds to childlike faith.  He heard and answered Darren’s prayer.  And with a sense of humor, I might add.  For one day a little brown puppy literally tripped me on my morning walk.  It was quite humorous when I realized he had no collar or owner.  I began to weaken so we took him home for a trial run.  I’ll never forget Darren’s face when I presented him with his answered prayer.  David wasn’t as convinced God was in this.  But we agreed to give this little guy a try.  When no one answered our ad, we officially took him in, naming him Brownie, and lavishing all the love we could muster on our runaway find.

Darren loved rough housing with his new best friend, so we felt it was worth investing the next fifteen years of our lives to enhance our boy’s life.  But we soon learned Brownie resisted confinement.  Whenever the door opened, he bounded out.  If he got off his chain, he was gone for days.  He just wouldn’t stay inside the fence.  We should have seen it coming, being the way I found him.  We spent hours searching up and down cul-de-sacs for that little lost pup!

It wasn’t unusual for Brownie to be gone overnight.  If a storm arose, we’d hear him scratching at the back door around midnight, drenched and dirty from his escapade.  I was not thrilled bathing the scoundrel before he was allowed back in the house. The pattern continued with his adventures lasting longer and longer.  Brownie was breaking our boy’s heart, and we were caught in the middle of his sadness and our anger.  The clincher came when Brownie’s escape lasted several weeks.  We searched the neighborhood, put the word out and comforted a little crying boy who missed his gift from God.  Inwardly, my husband was rejoicing.  And I was kind of relieved not to have to put up with an ungrateful pooch who preferred wandering over wrestling.

We had just about adjusted to a dog-less house again, when a neighbor called with information on our vagabond’s whereabouts. The joy on our son’s face spurred us on for another rescue attempt, two of us dreading the retrieval while the third was anticipating reunion.  We spotted Brownie in an open field, so Dad and son ran toward him, shouting his name. ” Come, Brownie; Brownie, Come!”  He looked up, pitiful, dirty, scroungy, and obviously starving.  We were there to rescue him at last. Come home to your warm bed.  Your dish full of Iam’s specialty food.  A cool drink. But best of all, come home to a little boy’s loving arms.  We expected one of those slow motion Hallmark moments with lost dog bounding happily and hungrily toward his little owner.

But, much to our shock and disappointment, Brownie took off in the opposite direction–as far away as he could get from his rescue team.  My husband was incredulous.  Let the stupid mutt go.  Why make him come back to a home he doesn’t appreciate?  But one look into his little boy’s eyes and the chase was on once again. Round and round they went, finally cornering Brownie at a place where he could not escape.  Disgusting dirty dog now embraced by forgiving faithful friend.

I’d love to tell you Brownie never ventured out again.  That he had learned his lesson to never run away.  But he possessed wanderer’s lust. He took off many times again, until one trek left him with a contagious condition that had to end his life. Funny thing is, we all cried when he was gone (well, maybe not David).  Brownie never seemed to want us in the first place.  It was like he lacked the capacity to receive love.  He refused to “come” when we called.  He refused the home where he slept and was fed.  Brownie resisted confinement, preferring freedom to go it on his own over the provision and protection we offered.

The desire for freedom causes many of us to run the other way.  Jesus says, “Come.”  But we also resist confinement.  Like Brownie, we wander off on our own, lured by greener pastures.  Freedom from rules.

When Jesus says, “Come to me,” He offers rest under the shelter of His wings. He offers provision and protection.  He offers everything we need for life and godliness.  Why would we run the other way?  Inside the perimeters of His loving commands for our well being, we are safe.  That’s where real joy is found.  True freedom.  Inside the fence.  How it must break His heart when we run the other way. Don’t be like Brownie.  Stay inside the fence, under the shelter of His wings.  Things go better when we yield.

The Lord calls, “Come!”  Don’t resist His confinement … because true freedom resides inside His fence.




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