Our little dog Asha has a bad habit. Our driveway is 200 yards long and when she hears someone driving down it toward our house, she runs full speed down the driveway at them.
She is about eight pounds, but she doesn’t get out of the way. She confronts the approaching car like the Tienanmen Square protestor who stood in front of a line of army tanks.
Inevitably they stop and then it’s a Mexican standoff – Asha just wags her tail and sits. Eventually what usually happens is that the car driver opens the door and then Asha jumps in and begins to warmly welcome them to our homestead.
Like most bad habits, it’s hard to break. Yesterday after work Rob Finney and I were sitting on the porch and I was telling him this story. Rob said that we should post a sign at the beginning of the driveway, “WATCH OUT FOR DEAF DOG!” Then people would drive slowly.
I don’t know – it might work, and in a way she is deaf to our yelling “Stop, Asha! Asha, stop!” But his sign idea seems disingenuous.
More conversation with Rob
So Rob and I were catching up. He had just returned from a 9-day personal retreat in a national forest. God spoke to him about what he wanted Rob to do in the future.
It was so outrageous that Rob asked God to confirm it with total strangers. And wouldn’t you know, as he emerged from the forest, three different strangers stopped him and shared things with him that were a direct confirmation of what God had said.
It’s an impressive story – one that inspires me to figure out how I’m going to find that kind of time to hear from God about what he wants done as we chart a course for the ministry I’m a part of.
We all navigate this twilight space between a physical world we can touch and bump into and a kingdom of God that is so hard to describe that Jesus himself used six different parables in one chapter (Matthew 13) to tell us what it’s like.
Part of me is like Asha – stuck in old ruts that have come to define me. Some days maybe someone should post a “DEAF DOG” sign outside my office. Sometimes change comes hard. People who know me may be charmed by my behavior and those who don’t may be perplexed. I have a high mercy streak that wants to take in stray animals and wounded folk. But I also am big on accountability and feedback. How to reconcile the two?
Another part of me is like Rob – hungry for God and for his kingdom, no matter how ambiguous it may seem.
I’ve found that anybody I get to know well is that way – a bundle of contradictions and complexities. Paul described it in Romans 7, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” Given that, one option is to post a “DEAF DOG” sign outside our rooms.
And another option is to develop the habit of practicing listening prayer – an exchange with God as opposed to a monologue wherein we ask questions that create space for divine answers and direction.
And that’s why I encourage listening prayer. It introduces God’s perspective. Getting that perspective can sometimes be exhausting, but it beats having stupid signs outside our doors.
I guess that leaves us with a question, “Are you the kind of person who asks God questions and listens for his voice?”