Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion for May 18, 2016


Walking dogs.  Walking dogs has taken up a good deal of my life which I guess is obvious because of how many times I talk about walking dogs.  The dogs seem like they always want to go for a walk - they do need to walk, but if it were up to them I think they would go for a walk all the time.  All you need to do is pick up a leash or put on the ‘walking shoes’ and the dogs are immediately excited, prancing and dancing and rushing the door.  They are quite upset if I am just cleaning up and putting the leash or the shoes away - since I touched the leash you would assume that meant we were walking, at least that is what the dogs think….
I’m always amazed, as well, how each time we walk in a particular spot it is as if the dogs have never been there before.  There is great excitement when we get out of the car regardless of where we are or how many times we have been there.  The dogs bound out of the car, nose to the ground and ready to head off on the adventure of walking.  Even though we have been to the location oodles of times before the dogs are exited and eager and headed off to experience the smells of the area!
Often times our walking adventure takes place in the local cemetery.  The cemetery, after all, is very quiet.  There is a nice road that runs around the outside and winds through the interior in several places so as one plots out the trek through the cemetery, there is variety of things to look at and a good area to walk.  
Out of the car we get and off we go on our walk, the dogs leading the way - well, pulling the way and I try majestically to keep up with them.  2 dog power makes a pretty strong tug…
The one particular cemetery that we frequent the most is on top of a large hill.  All around the cemetery are open fields and on one side is a cow pasture.  A cow pasture in fact filled with cattle.  The dogs were particularly fond of this side of the cemetery and when they jumped out of the car, noses to the ground, they immediately head that direction - tails up in the air, wagging, and their legs working in unison to head to the cows.  
Or maybe it was the tall grass that lines the fence that makes a barrier between the road surrounding the cemetery and the cow pasture - I’m not really sure because the dogs didn’t really seem to pay any attention to the cows once they reach this tall grass bordering the cows.  Their noses dig through the grass and you can hear the dogs huffing and snorting and occasionally a little growl could be heard.  But I came to walk and so I who has control of the leash insist the dogs begin to come with me instead of spending all their time sniffing in the one area of tall grass along the cow pasture - which I’m sure they would have gladly stayed.  
It had always amazed me as well that these cows never paid any attention to me or the dogs as we went barreling from the car to the cow pasture fence.  I can pretty well understand why the cows would ignore me, but I always thought that perhaps the cows would at least acknowledge these noisy little animals charging their way.
That is until one day…. One day as we drove to the cemetery, parked and unloaded the dogs who as predicted headed off for the border with the cow pasture; this day the cows seemed to pay particular attention to all of us.  All those cows who had previously been pretty complacent about cemetery wakers, looked up with their cud chewing faces, and just stared at us. All of them - it was pretty creepy.  After a moment of cow staring, we continued on our walk.  
We walked along the road that ran beside the fence that separated us from the cows and I looked over and for some cosmic reason, the cows were following us.  In all the time we had been on this cemetery walk before, never before had the cows even to seem to know we were there, much less follow us.  But they did…. 
We walked and the cows all lined up and continued to follow.  As we traveled the road, they followed on the other side of the fence.  We would stop, and they stopped.  We walked on and they walked on.  On we went and on they came.  Just weird.
There was a curve in the road and the dogs and I hurried along to maybe visually get out of the cows sight, but that didn’t work and the cows continued on - right after us.  
It was interesting that the cows had now followed us into a portion of their cow pasture where it appeared they had never been before.  From the looks of the field, this was new territory for our walker followers.  
Then the pasture ended and the road continued and the dogs and I walked on leaving the cows standing  in the corner of the cow pasture, longingly looking at us as we walked away.  Strangely enough there was a part of me that began to worry about these abandoned cows who had followed us into the pasture corner where they had not been before and I worried that they wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get back to their normal grazing area….
These cows blindly following my dogs and I along the road into an area in which they didn’t know where they were going or hadn’t been before made me think about how easy it is for us to blindly follow religious leaders that seem to be teaching a fun and easy and self-gratifying faith.  The message they teach tickle a part of us that makes their message easy to hear and them easy to believe.  We are like cows who follow strangers along the fence and end up in a corner somewhere we don’t need to be…. 
It is just a reminder how easy it is to get caught up in a crowd that can be easily persuaded to go a direction God never intended; to go a direction that will not honor God or provide what we need as God’s people.  We so easily follow and then find ourselves wondering where we are…..