Darn you, John Grogan.
You have seen that statement in multiple blog posts before.
I cannot tell you the number of times that I have thought/muttered/yelled that over the past 2.5 years of having precious Dickson in our midst. Now, please don’t let me insult Mr. Grogan’s abilities and talent. I am quite certain that I could never write the story as eloquently or as comically, but sometimes, I truly cannot help but think that Marley had nothing on Dickson LeNarz.
It was about two months ago when I had another “Darn you, John Grogan” lamentation. We had only been in the house for a month, and I was sitting in the back yard with Dickson, watching him frolic and frisk in his new playground. However, I must not have given Dickson the amount of attention that he desired, for his curiosity led him to the back fence line where he began to explore for crevices and weak spots in the wood. I was chattering away (imagine that) to a friend on the phone, ironing out dinner plans, when I noticed that Dickson began an army crawl at the back right corner. I leapt out of my chair as Dickson, to my utter horror, simultaneously disappeared into my neighbor’s back yard. A neighbor that I had never met.
With my flair for the dramatics, I, like Chicken Little with my head cut off, abruptly ended my phone conversation, ran around in a few circles in my yard, and futilely tried to devise a plan to retrieve my dog while the sky fell down around me. I ran back into the house, retrieved a dog twizzler or pup-peroni- Dickson takes after his parents with food matters– ran back outside, idiotically dropped on all fours at the minuscule hole Dickson had wriggled through, slithered my own arm through aforementioned hole, and began ferociously, and blindly, shaking the treat hoping that Dickson would concede. It didn’t take long to realize that this was not working. Hence, Chicken Little ran around in a few more circles in the back yard, screaming that the clouds were getting closer with each second. I dashed back towards the house, retrieved my dinky lawn chair, planted it at the fence line, and tried to climb up on it and inspect my situation. After a few near falls, I managed to stand in the chair and saw Dickson prancing around in his new claimed territory, smelling out the grill, checking for any food remnants, inspecting the best bathroom locations, just loving life. I began hissing at him, telling him to “get back here now”, with him just cocking his head to the side, per usual, and returning to his exploration.
I visually scanned the environment; the house looked empty. No noise permeated out into the yard; the lights were off. When the sky is falling, Chicken Little throws reasoning and clear-thinking to the wind, and I decided that I obviously had to hop the fence, retrieve Dickson, toss him back over the fence, and then find a way to crawl back over myself. It seemed simple- ludicrous- but simple. However, when you have the bicep/triceps of a centennial, hopping a fence can be quite the task. Needless to say, I slipped a few times, but when I was finally, and victoriously, mid stride/hop over the planks, I looked up to see my neighbors walking outside into their yard.
Let me just tell you, it is a very awkward first impression/meeting of your neighbors when you are in the process of hopping their fence with your dog roaming their backyard. I basically died in humiliation, straddling that fence, and tried my best to salvage what was left of my existence and dignity and mustered out a “Hello.” My environmental scanning skills are obviously quite mediocre as the family was, indeed, home. To make matters worse, the family had a toddler, and they decided to let the toddler meander outside when they came to inspect the current lunacy of their backyard. Needless to say, Dickson went bats in the belfry.
So, as I am trying to explain my awkward predicament, Dickson is howling at the toddler, whose mother is becoming quite agitated and whose father cannot hear what the idiot on the fence is manically trying to communicate due to the howling dog in his yard. I began gesturing wildly to the dog, trying to explain, “I am so sorry, that imbecile is my dog. He got loose. Bad spot in the fence. Need to fix. I just need to get him out of your yard, so that in turn, I can bury him in mine for putting me in this ridiculous mess. I wish my husband was here to help me with damage control, but of course, the sky never falls when he has the dog by himself. The sky falls only on me.” However, I don’t think anything came out but, “Dog. Soooooo sorry.”
Darn you, John Grogan.
The family continued to look at me in bewilderment. Dickson continued to howl at their child. I continued to hang onto the fence, currently wishing I could be anywhere but there gathering splinters from its wooden planks. Finally, I communicated “gate”, and the man indicated that I could walk around and go through the gate to retrieve my runaway devil.
I sprinted around the block to the neighboring street, burst through the gate, appreciated that the family had now gone inside to let me retrieve my dog in humiliated privacy, but in the midst of the chaos, I forgot to close the gate behind me. Dickson and I now ran around in circles in the neighbor’s yard until he saw the open gate and broke into a mad sprint around the entire neighborhood. Over the next ten to fifteen minutes, maltipoo madness continued as I chased him around the cul-de-sacs. Finally, in a crazed leap/tackle, I retrieved the Alcatraz vagabond. With sweat and dirt covering our bodies, we trekked home, Dickson without a care in the world, and I on the brink of myocardial infarction.
So, why do I tell the story of my Maltipoo madness and the irrational decisions and mortifying situations I make and find myself in on a daily basis? I tell the story because in life, I can be the Maltipoo that misses and ignores the meaning behind the fence. More recently, the point was hit home even more by the Bible study that we have been covering. The certain chapter was detailing Christ as the Good Shepherd and using the metaphor of sheep to delineate our wandering ways and hearts. In “I AM Changes Who I am”, Greg Matte is using a story of sheep in Yorkshire, England, who found a way to get out of their pen by rolling out of the cattle guard. In the book, after the flock has escaped the gate, he states,
Of course the sheep never considered the danger outside the protection of the pen. For the sheep to simply stay put and enjoy the protection of the pen would have been much easier. However, they sought greener asters on the other side. As humans and believers in Christ, we are perfectly compared to sheep. For us, peace comes in obeying God, but we try to roll out of His will and go into other pens. We are no better than the sheep. The sheep in Yorkshire did not understand the purpose for a pen. While it offered safety and access to the shepherd’s provision, they saw it as nothing more than a hindrance to their desires. We do the same thing. The Lord, our Shepherd, has our best interest at heart. And yet, we try to roll in a different direction, hopeful that we will find excitement elsewhere.
The world is a falsely comforting place. The praise of man and taste of success can lead us all astray, but instead of rolling over the “sheep guard” of wisdom to get outside the sheep-fold, we are to walk with the Good Shepherd. We are to follow His voice by walking away from sin and into His plan. Though He sometimes seems to move too slowly and He often leads from silence, the wise follow what they already know to do in order to discover what they need to know next. The Lord shepherds His people with incredible kindness. When we know how great the Shepherd is, we will never want to leave Him.
Why would Dickson leave the safe confines of his backyard? In this yard, he was provided with plenty of food and water, a plethora of toys to choose from, trees to find shade and rest under, and all of the other necessities and plush wants a dog could crave. However, the crevice in the fence was enticing. The thought of greener pastures on the other side too overwhelming, too tempting. He, like the sheep, never considered the dangers outside the protection of his fence. Instead, he chose to “roll in a different direction, hopeful that he would find excitement elsewhere.”
I was frustrated with Dickson that day, but how many times do I act just like him, and the sheep, and roll in a different direction from God? How many times do I fall short and embrace the world as a “falsely comforting place”? How many times do I forget that Christ has my best intentions at heart, and how many times do I decide to take matters into my own hands and wander astray from His direction and His calling? How many times do I try to wander away from where He has purposefully placed me and where He has confidently called me? I know of His great love and kindness, but in the midst of temptations and worldly desires, I choose to roll outside of the pen. Thankfully, Christ loves us so much that He extends grace, and He is a merciful Shepherd who protects His sheep.
Therefore, this week, let us see the meaning and purpose in our “pens”, in our current situations, in our careers, in our relationships, in our daily lives. Let us see that where we are is part of His plan, and in this place, He offers us what we need and His protection. This week, let us invest more time in Him, that we more fully understand how great the Good Shepherd is, and in this wisdom, rest and follow more in His will and His guidance. Ultimately, this week, let us set aside our Maltipoo madness and sheep-like ways and acknowledge that we have the Good Shepherd on our side, who has our best interest in mind, will never lead us astray, and loves us unconditionally despite our daily shortcomings and wanderings outside of the fence line.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11