Gandalf was right when he said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.” For the first time in over two months, Ollie the Border Collie and Millie the Black Dog and I stepped out of our door for our morning walk. We have walked several times with my bride recently, but this was our first solo excursion together since my neck surgery.
We love this morning walk. Yesterday we saw a possum and squirrels. We heard morning birdsong. We saw old friends who enjoy the sunrise with us. Ollie’s girlfriend, a rather attractive border collie with a white coat featuring large brown spots escorted her people. We always enjoy seeing one another.
We saw our friend who is kind of tough, but pleasant. Her dog is like her. He always growls as we pass, but we know that is because of his arthritis and the fact that he does not get to go as far as he used to. His master takes him on a short walk and then continues the rest of her constitutional alone.
Our morning route is around thirty minutes in length. This is perfect to get the day started. The Lord’s Prayer guides my prayer time on the way out. Psalm 23 is my prayer prompt for the way back.
We were on the Psalm 23 side of our walk yesterday morning and I was pondering and praying verse 3 when Gandalf’s words came true. King David says, “he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” My prayerful response goes like this: “Lead me step by step through this day. Lead me thought by thought, word by word, moment by moment.”
It was at this moment that a new guy came running down the trail toward us. He had a large dog on a long leash. Since we did not know his dog, and since he demonstrated the body language of aggression, I snugged up Ollie and Millie’s leashes tight and kept them on my right side. We stepped off the trail several feet into the wet grass.
As the runner and the dog came close to us, the dog lunged toward us. It was not a playful lunge. Ollie moved faster than I have ever seen. He bit the dog’s left ear and steered him away from me. Millie simultaneously went for his throat. I got spun around in the turmoil and the only thing I can remember is the grass and the ground coming at me fast. I couldn’t do a thing to catch myself.
The runner ran on and spoke a tepid, “Sorry.”
Our border collie friend and her people were on the way back up the trail toward us and saw what happened. They checked on me making sure everything was okay. They said that dog did the same thing to them.
Back to my prayer focus at that time. King David said, “he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Again, my prayerful response to this truth is, “Lead me step by step through this day. Lead me thought by thought, word by word, moment by moment.”
Our Father in heaven heard and answered that prayer in those moments. Getting off of the path and onto the grass kept this from becoming an accelerated and more painful engagement. My thoughts were focused on keeping us safely apart. No angry words welled up within me. No curses passed my lips and gritted teeth.
Limping toward home I prayed, “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.” My hips and right knee hurt like crazy. Radiologists will look for deep damage today. Soreness will last a few days. Ollie, Millie, and I will go back to our morning routine soon, but not as soon as we would like.
It is amazing how much calmer and how much more peaceful life is when we pray. The Apostle Paul was onto something when he talked about praying without ceasing. He actually says a lot more than that in 1 Thessalonians 5. Check out verses 15-18:
See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I will pray constantly and give thanks in everything.
Our Father, thank you for hearing and answering our prayers. Thank you for leading us step by step, thought by thought, word by word, moment by moment. Thank you for good walks, good company, and good prayer time. Thank you for protecting and defending us. Thank you for a border collie and a border collie and lab mix who are faithful, and when necessary, fierce friends. Amen.