Fearfully Following – A Devotional

Dog Walker Devotions – A little Background:

Here’s a little background for those of you that haven’t read any of my Dog Walker Devotions entries yet (there’s a longer introduction on my website, www.chelseanettleton.com). I started a dog walking service back in 2016, and through my time walking dogs and taking care of people’s pets, God started teaching me things about Him, others, life, etc. Instead of keeping those things to myself I wanted to share them, so I wrote a devotional.

There are 30 entries in this first edition of the devotional book, with hopefully a second edition to come later. Because of everything going on right now, I decided to release a few of the entries separately before the book itself is done, specifically ones that are centered around anxiety, fear, worry, and the like. I feel pretty helpless in a lot of ways with this pandemic, but this is one way I felt like I could bring some hope and comfort to people. I hope this devotional entry that spotlights Yap, one of the sweet pups I used to walk, will bless you and lift up your spirits.

My sweet buddy Yap!

Fearfully Following

Have you ever met a dog that just by looking at them you know they’re a gentle soul? For me, that would be my boy Yap (short for Lagniappe). He is a brown and white hound mix, with rich chocolate colored eyes, and a gentle temperament. Though he has an incredibly wonderful owner now, Yap experienced a rough first year of his life. Because of that he developed some significant trust issues and was afraid of pretty much everything. As I’m sure you can imagine, this made it very difficult to take him out for a walk.

I could see in his eyes that he knew I had no intention of harming him, but he definitely did not trust me in the beginning. If he could talk I’m pretty sure he would have said, “Hooman, I wantz to truzts yooz, I rely duz, but am skerd n don kno howz.” After going over for a meet and greet and walking him with his owner, I prepared to begin walking him on my own the following week.

Because I knew Yap’s background I made sure to be extra patient with him when taking him out for his walks. For the first week we didn’t make it past his driveway before he dug his heels in, letting me know in no uncertain terms that he would go no further. So, we went back to his house and played out in his backyard instead. By the end of the second week he let me take him as far as the end of his cul-de-sac, but the heels dug in and we’d turn around.

Finally, by the third week we made it out of the cul-de-sac a few feet. I thought surely we were finally on our way to walk around the neighborhood. But then the heels dug in once again. I wish I were an artist, because I would draw a cartoon of this moment: Cartoon me begging and pleading with Yap to move, while cartoon Yap just stares at me. Cartoon me starts pulling on the leash with all my might and cartoon Yap doesn’t budge an inch.

Over the next few weeks, slowly – and I mean painfully slowly – we made it further and further away from his house. One day we made it a few houses down from his cul-de-sac before he wanted us to turn around; then a half a block; then a whole block. After what felt like months, we finally made it all the way around his neighborhood for his full walk. I was so happy that I did a little happy dance when we got back – Yap looked at me like I had a screw loose, but I didn’t care because I was so delighted he finally trusted me enough to follow me.

As I was taking him inside I heard God gently speak to my heart, “don’t you hate how Yap doesn’t trust where you’re leading him, even though it’s the very best thing for him?” I scrunched up my face in realization that I am quite often a “Yap” when it comes to following (or I should say “trying” to follow) God. Most of the time I just don’t trust Him. Even though where He leads me is by far and away the very best thing for me 100% of the time! But, just as Yap slowly began to trust me, I am slowly learning to trust my Heavenly Father. And I’m so grateful he is patient with me as I grow in my faith, trusting Him more and more each day.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, how many times am I like Yap? Not trusting where You’re leading me? Please forgive me for this and thank You that You are eternally patient with me. Help me each day to trust You more than I did the day before. I want to go where You lead me, even if I’m fearful in the going.

Journaling: Do you struggle to trust God? If so, why? What areas or aspects of your life are more difficult to entrust to God? Why do you think that is? What might a personal prayer look like for you if you prayed about your lack of trust in Him, and asked him help to trust Him more? Write out that prayer now.  What might your prayers look like/how might they change if you did trust Him fully? Write out a potential prayer from that angle, so you can see it. Pray that He would help you to grow from praying that initial prayer, to praying the one fully trusting Him.

Key Verse: Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a hope and a future.”

Further Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 29:13; Psalm 139:13; Proverbs 3:5-6

Keep an eye out for the full devotional book, coming soon! Follow my blog to keep updated.

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