My dog, Duke, is a follower.
He follows me everywhere I go. If I leave a room, he jumps up and follows me.
Sometimes this is endearing and sweet. Other times, it’s rather annoying like when I am trying to load and unload the car or put the laundry away.
And if I am in the kitchen doing anything that sounds or smells remotely like food preparations, he is right there. He’s no dummy; he chooses to be in the kitchen at that moment because he hopes by being present he might get a treat. Maybe if he’s around, he might get a snack.
Perhaps he even wonders that I am in the kitchen solely for the purpose of providing something for him. That’s not usually the case. Usually I am fixing something for me. Yet, because he is there, because he looks at me so pleadingly and because I love him, I usually give him a little bit of something.
See, Duke likes to be near me because, well, he’s a loyal beast. But he also knows if he stays nearby, he will probably get something good. He might get his ears scratched or his belly rubbed. He might get to go outside or for a car ride. Or he might get a treat in the kitchen. He knows when he’s with me, good things come his way.
It occurred to me this is not unlike our relationship with God. If we would put ourselves in the proximity of our God and king, Lord and master, good things might come our way.
But when we choose to put ourselves away from God’s presence, because of our sinfulness, stubbornness, fear and whatever else we allow to drive us away from God, we forfeit the blessing that could be ours simply by being present with God.
King David, the author of Psalm 16, knew about this. He knew if he kept himself close to God, that God would provide and care for him.
He says, “Apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2) and “with you I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
He says it not only as an act of faith, but as a testimony from life experience.
I truly believe God longs to bring blessing and abundant life to us; it is a byproduct of our relationship with God. But our part is to stay near God, be obedient to God, live life within his will and ways.
The prodigal son had everything he needed in life and more, yet he chose to leave the father’s house, thinking life on his own would be better. He quickly learns life outside of the father’s house is awful. He later decides he would be better off even as a servant in his father’s house.
You, dear one, are a daughter or son of God. As we choose Christ and yield to his authority in our lives, we get this wonderful benefit of his presence and provision and love. We get the benefits a son or daughter would get. It is much better than a pet dog, let me just tell you.
Choose to be near God. God longs to scratch your ears, give you a treat, take you for a drive and let you stick your head out the window. Duke knows if he is nearby, good comes his way. But if he is asleep in another room, he might miss out.
Don’t miss out. Stay near God. Talk to him daily. Follow his ways. The outcome is totally worth it.
Be near us, Lord most high. Make known to us the path of life. Help us to learn from even the simplest of beasts, for you are constantly teaching if we will but listen. Give us wisdom that we might live. Keep stubbornness and disobedience far from us. And fill us with joy in your presence. Amen.
Michelle Rawdin is pastor of Antioch United Methodist Church in Gainesville. She can be reached at email@example.com.