“What matters the most should never be at the mercy of what matters the least.”
–Pastor Arden Gilmer
Camper has become my favorite bridge for building connected, nurturing relationships and for sharing my faith in Jesus Christ. Camper is quickly becoming my favorite teaching prop that keeps on giving. My dog trainer, Dianne, is a seasoned home-based therapist. She taught me the four basic training skills that Camper resists learning.: Stop. Sit. Good boy. Let’s go. Last week, I wrote about stopping. Today, I’m writing about the next challenging skill that Camper and I are learning—how to sit.
If we grow awareness by stopping all forms of worry, hurry, and busyness to pay attention to God and to one another, we grow obedience by learning to sit and linger in the presence of Jesus and with His children. The beauty of dog training is forming a connected relationship through repeated failures and successes. Camper likes it when I stop and sit and lie down and play with him and pet him and feed him. But Camper only wants to stop and sit if he thinks he’s going to get a treat. Camper doesn’t like to be told what to do or what not to do. Camper likes to run loose and be wild. He wants to chase birds, bunnies, dogs, blowing leaves and sticks, and anyone else who will give him attention and make him feel good. Sound familiar?
Sitting requires us to stop and yield and listen. Sitting puts us in a position of slowing down and taking a posture of prayer and reflection. Sitting positions us to surrender the control of our lives to our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. Sitting leads us to ask, “LORD, what do you want us to do together today?” Sitting puts us in the position of students who listen and learn from our Teacher. Sitting leads to the unloading of our burdens onto the One who invites us to come and find much-needed rest and restoration for our souls. He’s gentle and humble and kindhearted. Jesus knows everything about us, and He knows that what we need most is to spend unhurried time with Him.
The problem with sitting is that it collides with our felt need to be in control and to call the shots. Sitting collides with our to-do lists. Sitting collides with all of the messages that our parents and our society have taught us, like “obeying our parents is most important”. “Doing more is better than doing less.” “Cleaning everything up makes us look and feel better, even if it’s someone else’s toys, problems, or dog poop.” “Sitting is a waste of time because there are more things that we can and should be doing.” “The more you accomplish in a day, the better you will feel at the end of the day.” “You’re worth comes from what you do.” “The more people you help today, the better a person you are.” “The more you go after what you want and your dreams, the better you will feel.” Before long, if we follow these messages, we get absorbed with pleasing ourselves, pleasing others, exhausted from overextension, anxious about all of the things that we can’t control or didn’t get done, and are too busy and distracted to even sit down, listen, rest, and connect with God and with people. God is a jealous God who isn’t pleased with us when we ignore Him, when we listen to all of the wrong messages, and when we refuse to sit and to listen to Him. Our loved ones and our dogs are the same way.
If your life and dog training and relationships don’t seem to be working out the way that they’re “supposed to” work out, why don’t we sit down together and rest? If stopping causes you discomfort, anxiety, and thoughts and feelings that disrupt your peace, then it’s probably time to slow down and to sit with God and with people who genuinely care about your well-being. Jesus knows your thoughts and feelings and needs even before you express them, but He wants you to come to Him and to communicate. God generously supplies what you need most. People will only be capable of knowing, understanding, and loving you if you stop and sit with them and give them a chance to spend extended time with you and care for you. If you think you’re too busy or if you think that you’re a bother or that no one really cares anyway, then you’ve listened to messages and developed beliefs that are contrary to God’s ways. Toughing it out and silently suffering while you go-it-alone and get-it-done will eventually put you at odds with God, with yourself, and with others.
If God and people and dogs love it when we stop and sit with them, will you do it today?
What happens to you when you sit down?
Who do you need to sit down with today?