Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Lately I've been discussing the benefits of training for dogs. We've explored how new service dogs are trained from the time they are puppies - 8 or 9 weeks old - to look after people who need help. 

One of the most common ways to train a puppy to walk on a loose leash and let the owner take the lead (i.e., not make the owner feel like the dog is pulling his or her arm out of its socket - I've been there!) is a technique known as "Umbilical." Basically put, it means that the owner attaches the dog to himself or herself and never goes anywhere in the daily routine without the dog attached. The owner doesn't get out of the dog's way; the dog learns to pay attention to the owner, learns to anticipate, learns to depend, and yes, even to dote on the owner because the owner is the dog's source of all things: food, outings, entertainment, companionship, and more. Indoors, outdoors, it doesn't matter. The point of the exercise is to build relationship, to strengthen attachment, and to give the dog the idea that dog and human are inseparable.

Inextricably linked. 

Photo "Red Grapes On The Vine" courtesy
of Stoonn at
This is the lesson Jesus talked about in John 15. 

"I am the Vine; you are the branches. 
Apart from Me you can do nothing." (vs 7). 

It's not about the leash; it's not about where the vine stops and the branch begins. It's about relationship. 

Complete and utter connectedness. No "trying" to be connected, oh no. No straining or grunting or groaning to "grow" the relationship from our end. 

We aren't the source. We. Just. Aren't. He is the source, and He just flows into us ... whether we are aware of it or not. Whether we can feel His life in us ... or not. It's all His work. We're just along for the ride. 

That's not to say that the life we lead in the Way is not difficult; it is. But it needn't be difficult in the way it often is. A lot of times we get discouraged because we can't keep all the rules and we waste a lot of energy trying to meet expectations - others', or our own. And we tell ourselves that these are God's expectations. But the Word tells us clearly that we are "justified freely" (Romans 3:24) and that we are the righteousness of God in Him. 

No, the work isn't to obey the rules. The work, dear brothers and sisters, is to enter into rest. It is to cease from our own works. It is to realize how great, how deep, how wide and how high His love is for us. It is difficult for our flesh to stay in that place of total openness, where we realize that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us more. He just loves us. Period.

That is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Relationship. Passionate, intimate, He-loved-me-first, He-loved-me-most, no-holds-barred, laid it all out on His cross LOVE.

Pure. simple. Transformational. 

How can I NOT desire - with all that is in me - to be around Him every moment of every day? 

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