Training Grace

A few days ago Dave noticed a couple of young men who seemed to be circling the Travel Trailer; they then split up and one stood for a bit at the Tahoe and then moved on. This made Dave leery since it appeared that they were casing out the place. The only thing he could think of that would be easy to steal is the ball off the Tahoe which he had left on. Our bins are locked when we are walking and Gabe is often in residence while we are gone so no worries there. It can make one uneasy when strange behavior is noticed and we often react in fear or even by creating a confrontational situation. Dave simply removed the ball from the Tahoe for mind ease and we didn’t think much more about it anymore. The next day Dave was walking around the RV Park and the two young men approached him; it seems they had seen us walking and working with Gabriel and thought he was the coolest dog ever. They said they had never seen a dog trained so well and then asked Dave if he was a dog trainer. Wow, from stalkers to steal to Gabe admirers such is life with a ‘gorgeous’ shepherd.


This encounter made me think about the importance of discipline or training grace. We have kept up with Gabe’s training teaching him to ‘back’ on command. It should be noted that dogs do not by nature like to back up, it seems unnatural to them; they prefer to turn around to go backward but this was not what the command was. It took Gabe a couple of days to get it, he had always wanted to turn around but suddenly it clicked that we weren’t going to let him do that so the alternative was to step backwards till we commanded him to stop. I equate this training for Gabe to our Christian life. There are certain things that do not seem natural, perhaps going back over where we’ve been seems okay but we want to turn around and see where we are going. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty but when you are stepping backwards you are still looking ahead. Too many people only want to step back while looking back; it is hard to trust when your eyes are fixed ahead and all you are told is to trust the One telling you to step back. Looking back might seem the wisest thing to do but it can lead one to feeling like this is familiar territory hence we think we can do this all by ourselves. The Spirit might tell you to step back for many reasons, it might to be reposition you for the forward movement that you need to be in or to take a respite from the forward movement so things ahead can be positioned for your benefit. It might be a time of reassessing to make sure your forward progress is being accomplished with the right mindset, the correct motives or a free spirit that allows you to follow into a radical new way of life. Following isn’t always easy when you aren’t quite sure where you are going but you must trust the One who you are following to get you to the right destination. It takes training, it takes discipline to do something new, to go a way that is not comfortable. It also takes dedication, you might stumble (Gabe seemed to trip himself up trying to step back without looking), you might even fall; but if you dedicate yourself to a new way of doing, of thinking, and being; you will surely master it sooner than later. So many want to put it off till the later; the attitude is “someday I will…”. The someday usually never comes or when it does they find themselves so unprepared for the change that we stumble trying to go forward.


Scripture tells us that David as a shepherd boy defeated a bear and a lion; these were not everyday occurrences but it was imperative that he practice daily the discipline of slingshot battle. He couldn’t have known he was preparing to take down a giant, to deliver a kingdom or that he was setting himself up to be chosen as king. You may not like to train, to be disciplined but when the giants come you will be ready.






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