Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
I love my dog. His name is Shadow, and he's a beautiful Golden Retriever/Collie
mix. My kids named him after the gentle Golden Retriever from the Homeward
Bound movies from a few years back -- and for good reason. He is just like him.
He has the perfect temperament for children. He's playful when they're playful,
and he becomes totally mellow when it's time to settle down.
always let Shadow out first thing in the morning into a section of our yard
that I built just for him. We lovingly refer to this area as "Shadowland."
He usually runs right out the door and into the yard. But on one particular
morning, just as he was about to dart out into the yard, he stiffened like
and board and for a split second the hair on his back raised straight up.
I was puzzled by his actions and I looked out to see what was going on, just
in time to observe a family of ducks waddling through the yard.
Shadow is a Retriever, so his nature is to pursue these hapless creatures
and bring them home for dinner. I looked down at Shadow and noticed that he
had relaxed slightly. He looked back at me with those sad Golden Retriever
eyes, as if to say, "Everything in me wants to go after those ducks, Dad.
But I know that would displease you, so I'm not going to do it."
I was filled with so much love for Shadow at that moment. I got down on one
knee, hugged his neck and said, "Shadow, you are the best dog in the world."
Once the ducks were safely out of the yard I let Shadow out into the yard and
began getting ready for my day. But throughout the next hours that moment
kept playing again and again in my mind.
You see, Shadow wasn't always so obedient. We live on a busy street and
I won't allow the dog to go out in front of the house. When I work on the
front yard, I often leave the garage door open and Shadow wanders out to watch.
He knows he is not allowed in the front yard and so he sits at the edge of
the garage with his paws right on the line where the concrete driveway meets
the house. He knows what his boundaries are, and he usually obeys -- that
is, until that one fateful day.
I was out working in the front garden and Shadow was at his perch in the
garage. Suddenly a rabbit dashed out from between the houses and ran into
the busy street. Instinct took over and Shadow was after him like a flash.
Out of the corner of my eye I watched Shadow cross the line of safety, running
headlong into the path of danger. In a split second I sprang up, spun around
and yelled at the top of my lungs, "Shadow, no, no, no!"
Shadow knows his father's voice and before he could reach the street he
stopped cold and crouched down in a humble position, looking back at me. I
was relieved, but I still rushed over to grab him by the collar -- I knew
that his hunting instincts might yet overcome his obedience to me. Once he
was firmly in hand I chastised him again, leading him back into the house.
After a stern warning I leaned over and hugged my dog, thanking God for protecting
him from himself.
As a child I had lost two dogs that were dear to me. One
had run away, and the other had been hit by a car. I remember the pain I felt then
and I was glad that my kids would not experience that same anguish on that
After that day Shadow never darted out into the front yard again. But when
those ducks waddled past our door I know that it took every fiber of love
and respect that Shadow had for me to keep him from enjoying the hunt and
We humans are a lot like Shadow in that way, aren't we. In our fallen nature
we have desires that seem almost overwhelming. These passions may be different
from one person to another, but we all have them. Some people have the urge
for wealth and power, others are motivated by the desire to be accepted and
loved, others just want security and peace. If we're not watchful, these desperate urges can manifest themselves
in destructive behavior that the Bible describes as sin -- sexual sin, drug
and alcohol addiction, gambling, verbal or physical abuse, greed, violence,
murder, rape, envy, lying, stealing, cheating -- the list goes on and on.
Over the years I have lovingly cared for Shadow. I have taught him
to obey the rules that I set for him -- rules that I establish for his
protection, because I love him, not to keep him from having fun.
Now if Shadow grew up in the wild, he would never have had the input of a
loving father, and he would be subject to the dangers of this world. He would
be ruled by his instincts -- and those instincts would have mastery over him.
Had he been a wild dog chasing that rabbit, he very well may have followed
it out into that busy street, and the very urge that drove him could have
brought about his destruction.
Does any of this sound familiar?
The Bible tells us that we humans are fallen beings who are ruled by our
sinful nature. In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul details our wretched
condition apart from God's mercy:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:21-24).
Sounds a bit like Shadow, doesn't it? In our sinful condition this is our
tragic lot. But as Paul writes, "The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
The first couple of verses of the next chapter in Romans gives us the key
to freedom from this slavery to sin.
Now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus
from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 8:1-2).
When you yield to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in your life -- when you recognize
that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross to pay for the sins
of every person who ever lived -- when you accept Him as your Savior, the grace
and power of His shed blood brings freedom to your life like you can't even
Those worldly things that seemed so fun and important suddenly lose
their luster. The sinful things that once brought such pleasure seem empty and
meaningless. The habits that held you in bondage are weakened and in time completely
broken by God's grace.
And most wonderful of all, you learn that you are a child of your Heavenly
Father. You discover that He speaks to you, He guides you, He instructs you
by His Holy Spirit -- and like a good earthly father, He disciplines you because
He loves you.
When I disciplined Shadow that day it was because I love Him and I could
see what he could not -- that obeying his instincts could lead to death, but
obeying my instructions would lead to life. Over time Shadow has learned to
trust me. He has learned that I am a loving father who is interested in his
good. That day when the ducks waddled by he demonstrated his trust and love
for me by resisting his instincts and looking instead to his loving father.
The Bible says that God sets the choice before us. Will we obey our sinful
instincts, or will we submit to the direction of our loving Heavenly Father?
We can chose life or death. The reality is that no matter what we choose we
are a slave to something or someone -- either a slave to sin, or a slave to
The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). If you submit to the
Lordship of Jesus Christ you are a slave who is given complete Liberty. If
you stay in your sin, however, your slavery will ultimately lead to your death
-- physically here on earth, and spiritually in eternity.
You can trust God to free you from your sin and to give you a victorious
life in Him. You don't have to be ruled by your instincts. When temptation
arises you can look to your Heavenly Father and know that His way is the best
It's not always easy, and sometime our instincts get the best of us -- just
like Shadow's. But it is also comforting to know that when we blow it our Father
is always there to forgive us, to instruct us and to bring us back to a place
of love and safety.
Learn more about freedom through Jesus.
Next Steps for New Believers
Do you have questions or prayer requests? Send an e-mail
Or Chat Live with a CBN Prayer Counselor
Read ChurchWatch Craig's blog
More Discipleship Resources
More from Spiritual Life
Order your copy of Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice
Other articles and interviews by
Craig von Buseck
von Buseck is Director of Ministries for CBN.com. Send
him an e-mail with your comments.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.