The cow at Refuge Ranch, where we live part time with our daughter and her family in Mexico, is on a long rope leash. It’s cheaper than putting a fence around the property. The cow doesn’t like the limitations of the leash, sometimes stretching the rope tight in search of greener grass just beyond the length of the rope. The leash gives the cow a fairly large circumference for roaming and grazing, but it apparently isn’t enough.
I think we’re probably more like the cow at Refuge Ranch than we’d like to admit. We, too, have to live with limitations. I’ve even heard someone say, “The Lord keeps me on a short leash,” meaning that wrong actions usually bring swift negative ramifications, discouraging such behavior in the future.
Perhaps a leash is not the first image a person thinks of when reflecting on a relationship with God, but I’m thinking it’s a good one. We certainly are familiar with the family dog being on a leash, and it’s a good image (when there’s a good master or mistress on the other end). Parents sometimes use a child leash where there’s the real danger of the child running into trouble.
If we think of our relationship with God as being connected by the leash of His will for us, then it’s a helpful image. Do we really want to move and act beyond the circumference of God’s will for us? No, but we do, and that’s when we get ourselves into trouble, sinning and distancing ourselves from God.
God has his ways of reigning us in. There’s the gentle tug of our own conscience, the strong tug of how our actions contradict God’s Word, and the harsh jerk of the reprimand from someone we’ve hurt or someone who sees the error of our ways before we do.
Cows aren’t the brightest animal in the barnyard, so they never see the advantage of the leash – that the farmer tugging at the other end is taking them to new and greener pasture – and so they balk. A pet dog, being a lot smarter, usually gets excited about being tied to the leash because it knows it’s time for a walk and adventure. A careful study of the Biblical concept of the relationship between God and His people reveals that His leash of a connection to us isn’t going to limit our life but expand it, because He’s a good, a VERY good, Master!
“I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.” (God speaking, in Hosea 11:4a)