I got a pair of snow shoes for Christmas. I love them. I get to keep hiking through the cold north Idaho winter weather. My dog Meg, of course, keeps me company.
North Idaho winters can be brutal and beautiful all at the same time. An afternoon of heavy snow, followed by an evening of freezing rain and freezing temperatures lead to a morning of treacherous driving. Yet, if I make it to the trail head without sliding off the road, I’m in for quite the beautiful hike.
On this particular day the sun was shrouded by a pale gray veil. The woods were quiet and still. The only sound was the excited panting of my dog eager to be let loose on the trail and the crunch of my new shoes on the ice and snow.
I let her loose, and on command she bolted down the trail with her nose to the ground.
Every step echoed through the woods as if on a megaphone. I was used to slipping and sliding in my hiking boots. The grip of the spikes on my new shoes was like magic. I couldn’t stop the grin spreading from ear to ear as I trudged up and down the hills of the trail.
The change in weather does interesting things to the landscape. Areas that were previously thick with brush and briar were flattened, blanketed with snow and ice. Before where there was no trail, suddenly there was an invitation to take the road never traveled.
I took a turn where there was no turn, and took my shoes for a test run. The snow would have come up to my knees without my shoes. Still, every step caused me to sink a good six to eight inches. Every step felt like trudging through molasses. Meg was, as always, delighted to sprint where no dog had gone before.
When I stopped to take a breath, I took in the silence. Meg trudged back to my side. Panting, more than I’d seen her in a while, every step caused her to sink up to her chest. Despite the struggle, she grinned her little pit bull grin.
When I got going again, Meg tried to walk along side me, but she got far too tired in about three or four steps. I kept walking, glancing back to see how she was going to handle it.
It took her all of about ten seconds to realize it was a whole lot easier to walk behind me. She had to go quite a bit slower than she was used to, but she could move easily by stepping in my footprints.
As I walked, delighted to have her following me so close, it struck me: how often does God do the same thing?
I find myself in snow up to my chest, a trial I can’t hardly move in. God stands bye, watching me struggle and inviting me to follow Him in His way. In His footsteps. I look at His path and wonder if it’ll end up where I want to go. And therein lies the primary question - do I want my results or do I want God?
One thing I love about my dog is how resilient she’s been. We’ve moved countries, cities, states and different types of homes in the four and a half years I’ve had her. She’s welcomed roommates, families, a husband and other dogs and cats… and she takes it all in stride, on one condition:
She gets to stay with me.
How much there is to learn from my dog about what God desires from me.