Do not be like horse or mule, which have no understanding; *
who must be fitted with bit and bridle,
or else they will not stay near you." - Psalm 32:10
I had a dog once that pulled and pulled and pulled on his leash incessantly. He’d choke and sputter and wheeze and froth at the mouth, then pull all the harder as the leash and collar compressed his windpipe. Every walk with this dog was like being dragged down the road by an ox. Now, I know there are some dog people reading this who will say I just had not trained this dog correctly. Believe me when I say I tried, but it seemed there was nothing I could do to stop this dog from pulling forward. He thought he was walking me, but although it took a lot of strength on my part, I was the one who determined our walking routes. All he really manage to do was make the process really unpleasant for himself - and make me more stern and strict. The result of his habits was that taking walks with him was an extremely unpleasant chore.
The next dog I had responded to training. He learned how to walk beside me instead of in front of me and we managed our walks without any of the drama of asphyxiation. He had a way of glancing at me repeatedly out of the side of his eye to keep track of where my feet were so he could stick right with me. It was a much, much, much more pleasant experience to walk with this dog. We both enjoyed it - and we enjoyed each other. And even though I was still the one that determined the route we took, our walks felt like a much more mutual exercise.
I hear the psalmist telling me in Psalm 32:10 that I need to think about whether I’m going to make my relationship with God more like taking a walk with my first dog or my second dog. God holds the reigns of my life. I can forge ahead as if I think I’m in charge, making my throat sore and giving myself a bad back as God is left to drag me into the way I need to go. Or, I can slow down and do my best to walk alongside God, watching continually for cues to know which way God is heading and making sure I’m staying close. I have a choice, really, on whether to work together with God or to self-sabotage - to make God my companion or my rival.