October 22, 2017

Pastoral Nuggets: The Unlatched Gate

I heard a story the other day about two men who lived on the same street. Both were dog owners.

One owned a small breed dog and the other owned a large breed.

Over the course of time a strange ritual developed regarding the dogs and their owners.

When the owner of the small dog would leave for work, he would place his dog in the fenced-in front yard and latch the gate behind him. About thirty minutes later the owner of the large dog would take his dog out for his morning walk.

The sidewalk came right past the yard, fence, and gate where the small dog lived. It didn’t take the small dog long to figure out that the same fence and gate that kept him in also kept the large dog out. Armed with this knowledge, he became emboldened with bravado.

When the large dog came into sight the small dog would run to the edge of the fence and start yapping, barking, and carrying on as though he was going to annihilate the large dog. He would even jump on the gate as though he was somehow going to push it open and get to the large dog.

Through it all, the large dog never paid him any attention. He just kept his head high, his gaze forward, and kept on walking with his master, as if the small dog didn’t exist. Then, as fate would have it, one day the owner of the small dog failed to adequately secure the gate.

Unaware of this change of circumstances, the little dog began his ritual. He started yapping and carrying on. When the large dog reached the gate the small dog backed up, got a running start, and jumped with all fours onto the gate. Imagine his horror when the gate suddenly swung open.

His eyes were as big as saucers as the swing of the gate deposited him directly in front of the large dog. The large dog just smiled and thought to himself, “This is what I’ve been waiting for!” and he proceeded to turn that little annoying, yapping dog every which way but loose!

When the little dog finally made his escape, he made a beeline to the front porch and parked himself.  As he sat there trembling and licking his wounds, the only thought that came to his mind was: WHAT IDIOT LEFT THE GATE UNLATCHED?

There are some tremendous truths in this story that we as Christians need to learn:

  1. All too often, we behave differently when we believe there are no consequences for our actions.

  2. All too often, we are unaware that our life circumstances have changed – until it’s too late.

  3. Sometimes, it is the careless actions of others that adversely affect us.

  4. In the end, life forces us to deal with the consequences of our actions.

  5. Once our actions have caused the gate to swing open and we have been forced to deal with the consequences our actions produced, our view of the situation is forever changed.

And speaking about our view being changed; this reminds me of another story I heard recently.  A woman’s husband had Lasix surgery to correct his vision. Not long afterward the woman went to the surgeon and demanded a refund.  When the doctor asked her why, she replied, “Because he still doesn’t see things from my point of view!”

If we are wise we will discover that learning to see things from God’s point of view is what is really important. We will learn to govern our actions with the thought in mind: There’s an All-Seeing Eye watching us. We will remember that our life circumstances can change suddenly and without notice.

We will realize that sometimes it is the careless actions of others that adversely affect us. And in the end, each of us will give an account to God for our own actions.

Oh, my! How many times have I been that yapping, annoying little dog? How many times have my foolish actions taught me a life lesson that I will never forget? Hey, I have a feeling I am not the only dog named Rover running in this pack! (Pun intended!)

Ponder on this.

Brother Aaron

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