Some years back I noticed a man walking across a field near our house with a big labrador retriever running circles around him.
The dog looked like he was having the time of his life, thoroughly happy to be there with his owner, and—to my total surprise—no leash. No matter: the dog seemed to be finding so much pleasure in being close to his master. Back in those days, we had a little shih-tzu dog named Lucy (don’t judge me…). Unlike the labrador in the field, Lucy would never see outdoor life beyond her leash. Here’s why. One day after we had moved to the suburbs (that’s where they cut down the trees and name the streets after them), I took Lucy for a walk around the little pond at the front of our subdivision. Suddenly, I had a naive thought: “I bet if I take her off the leash, we’ll have a bonding moment and sit by the pond together and watch the geese fertilize the lawn.” I took her leash off. She walked a few feet ahead, looked back at me, then peered ahead at the street, and took off like a bullet. I started running after her, with no possible way of catching up, while trying all the stupid human tricks I could think of, like yelling, “Lucy…do you want a treat?” Forget the Snausages—she was headed for the next county. She ran through a busy intersection and down the highway, leaving me in her shih-tzu dust. By this time I’d resorted to calling her every name possible. Resigned, I figured I’d see her picture on a milk carton someday. But a couple from the next subdivision saw her and were able to grab her. By the time I got to them, Lucy’s eyes were wild with freedom. But it’s a freedom that could have killed her because she has no clue of the danger of two-ton SUV’s…or no one to feed her…or the dog pound. The leash is for her safety because she will not listen to the voice of her master. That’s the difference between a trust-based relationship with Jesus and religion. The Law is a leash designed to keep us safe, protected. But true childlike trust is found in the leash-lessness of grace, when we find ourselves satisfied with the voice of our Master, running across the fields of the Kingdom with Him, fetching what He throws to us, and simply enjoying being in His presence. We trust Him to keep us safe, and take pleasure in His calling us by name, calling us near. It is the depth of soul Paul describes in Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (ROMANS 15:13 NIV) Not a bad deal: joy and peace…as you trust in him. Leaders, we have to teach our people this very simple but powerful truth over and over...if we want to see people truly transformed. By the way, you’d think at my age I’d totally get this trust-thing. But I’m still learning to be leashless.
Dave Workman | Elemental Churches