Somehow we’ve managed to train our dog to stay in the yard, without a fence or leash. We usually go out with him, but it sure is nice on chilly mornings to take advantage of his homebody nature. He’s as curious as the next dog but something in him likes to stay close to home. He roams freely in our large backyard, exploring the perimeter daily as if expecting to find something new. And yet when he comes around front, he never goes past the front walkway but heads right up to the porch. I can be out back doing something and he will be waiting on the front porch forever for me.
It occurred to me recently that I’ve lived my life, for the most part, somewhat like my dog, close to home and never venturing beyond the yard. I’m not a risk taker, and the only changes in my life have been ones that demanded a response from me, rarely ones I’ve initiated. For several years now, I’ve been wanting to move in a different direction, but fear of the unknown, of what lay at the edge of the yard, kept me tethered to the safety and security of the predictable. Until about a year ago when it finally hit me, I needed to leave the yard. I realized there was no way to achieve the life I was envisioning without taking a risk.
One of the beautiful paradoxes of life in Christ is that we must remain close to home, while being willing to venture where God leads. On the one hand, God invites us to know him deeply. He then calls us to an intimate knowing of ourselves through this intimate knowing of him. I like to think of this as “staying home,” able to be our true selves with God, one another and ourselves.
Yet God is always inviting us to move beyond ourselves, beyond what we think is possible. He invites us to take risks, to step out in faith and push into the unknown. It is from this anchoring of our being in Christ that we are able to grow and move beyond the safety of life as we know it. It’s not that we live unsatisfied lives, always sniffing at the edge and wanting to be where we’re not. But when we sense God beckoning to us, moving us in a new direction or into a place of deeper commitment, we can (as I’m learning) respond, trusting God’s faithful presence on the journey.
I’m glad my dog sticks close to home, where it’s safe. But then I’m glad I’m not a dog! I want to stay, not where I am safe, but where I am known, and from that place I long to be willing to venture out into the wide open spaces of God’s grace!