Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Holy Shock Collar

Psycho Dog has a shock collar. I know, it sounds cruel. I don't know, maybe it is. But it works. She was so out of control that we had no choice. She would attack poor Lucy for no apparent reason. I guess because she's a herding dog, she feels the need to round everyone up, regardless of what they are doing, and the first one to start with is the lazy golden retriever on the dog bed. 

We started out with a bark collar.  If she barked while she was in her crate, or in the car when she spotted a bicycle, motorcycle, runner, or any other moving object, it would emit a low shock and the more she barked, the worse the shock got. She learned not to bark. That worked for some things---like barking (Incidentally, my daughter suggested that I find one for myself so that I would learn to stop talking. I didn't think that was funny).

Because there were other issues, like stalking, we moved from the bark collar to the industrial strength shock collar. This works a bit differently from the bark collar, in that we control the shock strength and timing. If she gets that glint in her eye and starts to go after Lucy, we shock her with a remote control and it stops her in her tracks. The goal here is that after the dog is shocked a few times for any unwanted behavior, the dog supposedly learns not to do that unwanted behavior. (Please note that we did not abuse this device-we only used it a few times-and didn't use the full strength).

Because Foxy is a highly intelligent breed (Australian Cattle Dog), she figured this game out very quickly. By that, I mean she figured out that when she is actually wearing the collar, she can get shocked. She even knows when we pick the remote up and stops doing whatever it is she set out to do. So we know she gets it-oh, she totally gets it! BUT...when the collar is not on, it's a free for all. She knows she will not get shocked. The whole goal of eliminating unwanted behavior is lost on Foxy. She's figured it out...but not completely. Since we hold the control, she doesn't really know if she will be shocked or not, so at this point, all we have to do is put the collar on, and she behaves. We very rarely, if ever have to actually shock her now. She may be highly intelligent, but alas, she is still a dog.

A calm Foxy, wearing her necklace
We are not so much different from Foxy. When it comes to sin, we do the same thing. We seem to know just how much we can get away with and what will cause "shock value." We think we have the game figured out. The thing is, like Foxy, we don't really know when or if we will get caught or shocked. We play the game, thinking that we are outsmarting God. HA! He has His eye on us, just like Brian and I have our eye on Foxy! 

The funny thing is, Foxy seems much calmer when she's wearing her shock collar. When she starts to get a little funky, one of us will say, "Get over here!"  She puts her head down, mumbles and smiles a sardonic grin (yes, she really does smile--sardonically) and humbly walks over for the nightly positioning of her necklace. Once that thing is around her neck, she's like a different dog-much more manageable. It's almost as if she is grateful for the disciplinary device.

When God created us, He gave us free will. We always have a choice. We can choose to sin or we can choose to wear God's disciplinary device---a Holy Shock Collar, which is The Holy Spirit, the Word of God dwelling in us. Some call it our conscience. But I like to think of it as a Holy Spirit nudging. "DANGER, DANGER WILL ROBINSON!"

"Don't touch that!" Shock! "Step away from that!" Shock!"Turn your eyes away!" Shock! "Don't eat that!" Shock! "Change your thinking!" Shock!

Eventually, the "shock value" becomes learned behavior. We can be like Foxy, and try to stay one step ahead of the game, but that gets tiring. Without our "shock collar" we are out of control. But as soon as God says, "Come over here, " and places that necklace of obedience-- His holy harness, His yoke on us, we are at peace. Calm submission ensues. We can rest. We no longer feel the need to act like a crazy animal who lunges at every moving object. 

Foxy's collar is physical. We don't have a physical collar---or do we? God's Word, the Bible is what keeps us from falling, from getting out of control, from both flagrant and insidious sin. We need to stay focused on Jesus and focused in His Word. The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb 4:12). Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path...and a shock collar unto my neck (Psalm 119:105, plus Mary's amplified version).

Foxy can't outsmart us, and we can't outsmart God. So let's stop trying, and come humbly to him...daily...and ask Him to place His Holy Shock Collar on us to keep our feet from stumbling, our hands from idle tasks, and our thoughts from wandering away from His Word.

Blessings Along the Way,

Thy Word (Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith)

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