Dogs, according to dog whisperer Cesar Milan, live fully in the present. There is no past or future for them. So, whatever happens happens right at that moment, without regard for future consequences, and, apparently, without learning much from the past.
Now, I have two dogs--a yellow lab, Jake, and a golden retriever, Lacey. They were rescue dogs, found running across a highway near Roanoke by a couple of friends of my husband's. These dog lovers picked them up, took them to an emergency vet and discovered that the animals had microchips implanted with their owner's information. When the owner was contacted, he refused to take them back, citing his frustration at their wanderlust. He had chased after them one too many times and was washing his hands of them.
We ended up with these beautiful, friendly, well-behaved, and, it appears, remarkably unrepentant (I'm trying not to use the word "stupid" here) animals a few weeks later. It didn't take long before we discovered what their former owner knew all too well: if there is a way to escape the backyard, they will find it, and off they go. Once they leave, they have no idea how to get back--so the chase is on. They've been picked up by animal control more than once. I've managed to find them just before they got picked up several other times.
Now, if I'm visible, even a wide-open gate will not tempt them to leave. As long as they can see me, they feel safe and at home. I've established myself as their alpha in the pack, and they follow me everywhere, not letting me out of their sight. But should I disappear . . . I just took a deep breath here because I know only too well what happens. A couple of days ago, I was getting a tool out of the garden shed when a gust of wind blew the door shut, enclosing me in there. By the time I found what I needed and emerged, maybe one minute later, Jake and Lacey were long gone. It didn't matter that I'd been working outside for several hours with that gate wide open, because they had been able to see me that whole time. For them, living completely in the present, out of sight means out of mind.
I'm just not sure that we humans are all that different. We also quickly run off when we lose our awareness of the presence of a Holy God. We can forget about God as easily as Jake and Lacey forget about me. Out of sight, out of mind. I wonder if God gets as frustrated with us as I do with those dogs. We run off, happily sure that we can find our way back when we want to, and completely unaware that the chances of our getting badly hurt or lost forever are very, very high.
We are not dogs, however. We can take steps to ensure a greater awareness that our "alpha," that is, God, is present. By going to church weekly, finding opportunities to serve others, disciplining our minds and souls into the awareness that we are not alone, but are part of the interconnectedness of the entire created world, held together by the power and love of our Creator God, we can discover our own safe place. Sounds like a good idea to me.
And, by the way, should you see Jake and Lacey running around, just call them to you--they'll happily come. And then call me: 214-418-9541. I'll be out looking for them anyway.