The look in Shadow's eyes spoke far more than the tilt of his head. How many times had I seen that expression in his eyes? How often did he stand staring, waiting for my signal, alerting him of his turn; the time to walk once again? And how many times have I acknowledged him while running out the door with a mere nod saying, "I'll be back?"
Before the arthritis invaded his joints, Shadow and I adored our walks together. Early morning was our favorite time, before the world came to life. He and I would take the short car ride to the walking trails near our home. I'm not sure what he enjoyed most, the walk itself or the fresh air blowing against his snout during the drive. As we walked he wore with pride my keys around his neck. Their jingling gave rhythm to our walk. There also seemed to be an extra bounce in his step those days. Our walks together were treasures. I came to know Shadow's mannerisms and became keenly aware of when he was thirsty or tired. The pace of our steps were often in-sync, rarely did he tug or pull; he simply was content walking next to me. And I was thrilled to have him there. I thoroughly enjoyed the gentleness of those mornings, just he and I, and God's creation. Those mornings always set the tone for a much better day.
The last couple of years I've been helping a lady care for her little dogs. Daily I feed them and walk them. They are sweet and I thoroughly delight in our time together. I love the feel of the warm breeze and watching the loons and other wild life as we meander around the lake together. Recently I began helping other friends with their dogs as well. This takes up a bit more of my time. But each time I return home, there are my two loving pups, waiting to greet me at the door; ready and willing to lavish me with their unconditional love.
The other morning after walking one set of pups I came home for a quick lunch. And rushed back out the door for another appointment. As I turned to say goodbye to Shadow there he stood, my gray faced pup, head tilted. He waited longingly, as if to say, "Can I come now?" His expression tugged at my heart as I gave him a big hug. I felt like such a traitor.
It was true. I had been spending far more time giving love and attention to other's pets. But sadly the last time Shadow and I walked down our street his arthritic joints slowed him down. We had not walked far when he began limping. He never whimpered, yet I worried he was in pain. It was in his faithfulness to me that kept him right on walking. He was thrilled just to be with his master. My heart broke as I watched him limp back home and I decided then that our days of walking together were coming to a close.
As I drove to my next appointment, I pondered about how wonderful those times were. I kept thinking of the longing in Shadow's eyes, the confusion, as he stood at the door waiting for me just to give the word. I never meant to betray my sweet old pup, but something about his expression that day really nudged at me. Like a gentle breeze I felt another nudging; another's whisper. I sensed the Lord's voice, "Shadow is not the only one whose heart longs for you." Once again God. in his kindness, had revealed another lesson from Shadow; the Lord's love for us is far greater and he too stands waiting at the door.
Like Shadow, He longs for our time together, it is a treasure to Him. I began to ask myself, "Do I get as excited over my walk with Him?" I wonder how often he finds me running out the door with nothing more than a mere nod in his direction. Yet the Lord is gentle and will never force us to love Him. He simply desires that we would take delight in our walk with Him as much as He delights in us. So He waits. Like Shadow he continues to wait patiently, longingly.
Thankfully He walks beside us daily, even when we don't acknowledge Him. The journey of our lives is a gift from our Master. He yearns for us to know that walking beside Him is also a gift.
"You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more." ~Psalm 16:11
(Google image above)