My ninety-plus pound Belgian Malinois is a great running partner—most of the time. Valor heels, sets a good pace, and serves as bodyguard too.
But he has a high prey drive.
Anything small and furry that moves, beware. (FYI, owners of small dogs, big dogs see prey rather than your precious baby.)
If I see a potential target before Valor does, we work through his obedience. He behaves and stays by me.
If Valor sees his prey first, well, we have trouble. When his focus shifts away from me, his body goes too.
Temptations. They’re everywhere. Though we may not be tempted by the neighborhood wildlife, we all struggle with obedience.
How do we handle temptation? And what do we do when we go off-leash?
1. Heel. Establish a habit of walking with God. Not ahead. Not behind. By His side. Regular obedience has benefits. First John 1:7 in the NIV says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Consistent obedience helps us discern right from wrong.
We learn how God speaks and moves in our lives.
We develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Less correction is needed. A light tug vs. a sharp pull.
We navigate temptations with God rather than apart from Him.
Consistent obedience builds trust in God’s leadership.
2. Squirrel! What if we forget God and give chase? First Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Look for God’s way out and take it. When Valor gives chase, it puts him in danger. Cars. Other dogs. Even rabies. He may think my command to leave the bunny alone is mean, but it protects him. God, too, has our best interests in mind. To continue puts us at risk.
3. Return to the Master. Come back when the chase is over. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Go to God.
Confess. Agree with God’s assessment.
Ask for forgiveness based on the work of Christ on the cross.
Thank Him, then talk to Him. What got us in trouble. What spiritual root was behind the action? What lie fed the temptation? How can we avoid it next time? Who could hold us accountable?
4. Heel. Start again. Focus on God. Eyes on Him and off the critters. Lamentations 3:22-23 reads, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Turn from ______ to God.
Most mornings, Valor and I head outside. If he has a bad day, I don’t punish him by not taking him the next day. We still go, I just watch more closely.
God misses nothing. If I want to chase something, He’ll let me. But I’m always disappointed. More times than not, my squirrel gets away.
Walk in obedience, and train your kids to do the same. There’s no sweeter place to be. But should you chase a squirrel, remember, you can always come home.
- If your kids have never walked a dog before, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog. (Unless you live by me. Sorry. Valor requires advanced skills.) What did they learn?
- God promises to provide an escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). What escape routes have you seen? Parents, what escape routes can you offer your kids as they deal with peers and eventually dating?
- Has your squirrel chasing become a habit? A stronghold? What is the root issue? Do you or your child need help to break the hold of a particular sin? Your local church can steer you in the right direction.
- Look again at 1 John 1:7. Play a game like Hide and Seek or Sardines, once in the light and once in the dark. Talk about the differences, then discuss walking in the light (walking with God) and walking in darkness (walking without God).