Our dog peed on the carpet again today. That is something that upsets me. It makes my toenails curl, my eyes bulge and teeth gnash. My reaction to the Minnesota Vikings losing to the Green Bay Packers would be much the same. Though things have gone well, since we rescued him nearly two years ago, I can’t help but lack trust in him. That is why we continue to keep him kenneled overnight. Despite the fact that I probably give him more affection than anyone else in the house, I am convinced that he doesn’t like me…or at the very least…I am not his favorite.
Each morning, I am the first one awake. I look at him in his kennel when I first get up and he will not make eye contact with me…I am convinced that he is pretending that he is still sleeping. I will sit in the chair next to the kennel, drink my coffee, read a book and then as soon as he hears another set of feet hitting the floor, he springs up and scratches at the door excited that he can finally come out.
I have experimented with these patterns over the past year and a half or so. One night as I was heading off to bed, I opened the kennel door…let him in…but didn’t close the door. The next morning…he is still in his kennel…door open…pretending to sleep. I sit down in the chair next to the kennel…and he continues to lie there. Then, someone else gets up and he bolts through the open door into the freedom of the day.
One morning I sat in my chair and reached down and unlatched the door while he pretended to sleep. I swung the door open…and still he just lay there…refusing to come out. Once again…as soon as the next person arises…he runs out of the kennel appreciating the open space.
There was one night, in fact, in which we forgot to place him in his kennel at all. When I got up that morning…there he was…laying down in his kennel with the door wide open.
I am reminded of two passages of scripture. The first is what Paul says in Romans 6, where he describes that we are slaves to our masters…and sin is our master until Jesus breaks the chain that bonds us to sin. Yet, even after that chain has been broken we find ourselves going back to our old master…our old ways…our old sins…much like what Peter says in his 2nd Epistle chapter 2, verse 22, “A sow that is washed returns to wallow in the mud.”
Jesus has set us free…yet we often choose to stay where there is no freedom. There is nothing left to keep us chained to the sin…nothing left to keep us under the “old master,” yet, there we stay…like a dog pretending to sleep in an opened kennel.
When Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed. That is why we choose to be baptized. To express the work that has already been done. To express how Jesus led us to die to our old sinful selves…our old ways…and gives us new life…a free life.