It happens at the end of every day. She hears him before I do, stands at the door, and stares with fixed concentration. By the time I hear his footsteps, her body shutters with anticipation. It’s as if every day is Christmas and he is Santa.
He enters with a big hello and a handsome smile. We hug, we kiss, and we make room for her, our (coming-undone-with-love-for-her-man) pup, our Willow.
Her front feet jump up onto him, body wagging, and then she leans. Every inch of her being releases and every ounce of her weight presses into his chest. It’s as if she was carrying the whole weight of this big world while he was away. As she surrenders to his presence and lets every bit of her being go, she can’t help but lean into him.
I observe this ritual; have it memorized by now, but tonight I hear the message in the moment. I hear Willow preach a gospel message that I have known with my head but have trouble settling it into my heart. If she had a Bible, which I don’t believe she does, she would open it to Matthew 11:28-30 and have me read, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
As she leans into him completely, she looks back at me with gorgeous amber eyes, and I hear this pup preach right to my soul. Her look says, “See, this is how you do it, this is how you come to Him, this is how you find rest.”
I wonder if I could ever live that surrendered, that confident in the love of my Master. So assured that I come undone in His presence and lean into His strength and love. It’s a beautiful thing, a man and his dog; a small reflection of the person and their Maker. I lean back against the counter and smile at the love spilling all over the kitchen floor.
I close my eyes and try to take a snapshot with my mind. Can I remember this, can I hold on to it, tightly? Can I pull it from my memory when I’m occupied with tasks and expectations and the nitty-gritty needs of life? Can I sense God’s presence, stop in the frenzy, run to Him and lean, right into His strength, right into His majesty?
My eyes open. He’s getting her a cookie now. She’s prancing around the kitchen island. It’s her response to a love-filled tank, a tank filled because she leaned in and received it. I want to lean in like that; I want to live a leaning in life, too.
Can I sense God’s presence, stop in the frenzy, run to Him and lean, right into His strength, right into His majesty?
I open the cabinet and pull out my favorite cutting board. I grab an onion from the fridge and begin making dinner. I’m aware of the afternoon seeping into the evening, aware of one moment bleeding into the next. It’s as if life is a novel with pages turning by the wind.
I place my knife down and brace myself with two flat palms on the counter as if I can brace myself against the passage of time, and I feel determination mount. Knowing that this leaning in life will elude me if I just wish for it one moment and forget it the next, I turn my wish into a prayer.
It’s not a prayer of reason residing in my brain; it’s a prayer of passion, of pleading and tenacity brewing in my heart that bubbles up and out. It’s a determined request coupled with a dogged commitment.
I see Willow’s amber eyes, I remember the surrender of her body against my husband’s chest, and I follow her lead. I cry about my fears, I repent for trusting my ways over His, I name my worries and acknowledge His strength and His power. I do this until my resistance is depleted until my soul is tender, and then I just lean.
The half-chopped onion sits, waiting for my attention. The sun continues its descent. The pages of my life are still turning in the wind, but I’m leaning in now.
I consider again the verse in Matthew. Come to me, and I will give you rest. And I think of my softened soul, its ability to bend, and lean, and rest. My grip on the counter loosens as a knowing that I am loved and held washes over me.
As I pick up my chopping knife and get back to my patient onion, I am overcome with gratitude for the reminder hidden in a beautiful moment. For the invitation to come to Jesus, pour out my heart, and receive rest. For a beautiful picture of my amber-eyed pup leaning into her master’s love. And for the opportunity to choose to live a leaning in life.
You’ll love this recent podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Skillet’s Jen Ledger Shares Her Faith, Her Fear and Her Strength – 044!