Funny how a walk can be the most exciting event of the day for my dog Henry. I mean, right after the excitement of a cookie dropped on the floor.
I pick up his leash and Henry tears through the house, leaping, dancing, and galloping. Yes, he can do all three at once. Then he barrels full tilt toward the door and always realizes a bit too late when it’s time to put on the brakes. It goes like this: scramble, scramble…mad dash…hit the wood floor…skiiiiiiiiid…face-plant into the six-panel pine.
If I haven’t made it to the door by the time he recovers, his excitement turns to desperation, and he launches another antsy-pants dash through the house. Only he runs folded in half, his head skewed around to see if I’m following him, which means he ricochets through the halls like a blind rhinoceros trapped in an alley too small. It’s a wonder this dog doesn’t knock himself senseless.
When I get to the door, collar and leash in hand, Henry twists, wriggles, and tramps up and down the nearby stairs, because, you know, that makes it so much easier for me to get the collar and leash on him.
And of course he whines nonstop through this entire process because I might SOMEHOW forget he wants to go out.
Not that I don’t try to carry out this whole procedure with some semblance of decorum. I do. But Henry’s not a decorum kind of dog. Still, I won’t open the door until he sits calmly. (His version of this means his rump barely touches the floor and his extremities still twitch.)
Heaven help us if he’s finally prepped and seated at the door, and I forget something and must walk all of ten feet away to retrieve said item. The dog has a panic attack.
For pity’s sake, I’m dressed to take him out, he’s wearing the leash, and I’m still looking right at him. Of course we’re going for a walk. I’m not abandoning him, I’m just getting my hat.
I wish he could see that. Or at least that he could relax and trust me, even if he doesn’t understand my delay.
One day, after months and months of our routine, I have Henry seated precariously at the door when I realize I have yet again forgotten something.
My whole body cringes. “Henry, stay here. I’ve gotta get a doggie-doo bag.”
His eyes flit to me. They’re glazed over with one repeating message, “It’swalktimewalktimewalktimewalktime…”
“Yes, I know it’s walk time. And you’re sitting very nicely. I just need a bag before we can go.”
I take one step and Henry’s twitching elevates.
“I’ll be right back. I promise.”
I could walk him through the house, but it’s easier to dig a baggie out of the drawer if I don’t have his nose digging through the drawer with me. I head around the corner into the kitchen without him, expecting a panicked Henry at my heels any second.
After a good chunk of rummaging, I turn up the last bag we apparently own. I haven’t seen or heard Henry yet, so I hustle back to the door, half worried he keeled over and died.
There he sits, beautifully poised, straight and tall. Alert, but calm. Waiting.
Oh. My. Gosh.
He trusts me.
He finally believes I’ll follow through on my promise. That I won’t bring him to the brink of a goal and then abandon him.
“Henry, I’m so proud of you!” I fawn all over him, giddy not just over his obedience, but over the peace he found in trusting me. It’s been a long time coming. A hard time.
Then God’s voice nudges into my heart. “Henry trusts you, and you delight that he has. So I delight when my children trust me.”
The words drop hard in my gut. Oh, how often I’ve failed in patience, running ahead and slamming into walls. How often I’ve teetered on the ragged edge of panic, trying to sit still but twitching and whining. How often I’ve accused God of abandoning his purpose, his promises.
All he wants me to do is trust.
Even if he takes longer than I want.
Even if it seems God has disappeared from my view.
He isn’t gone. He’s just putting into motion things that need to happen. Working in ways I can’t see or understand any more than Henry can fathom my ways.
I reach for Henry and stroke his fur, filled again with joy for him. At least for today he’s trusting, waiting.
If Henry can do that, so can I. Not only to delight God, but to accept the good he wants for me. Because “blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45).
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