Like a Dog in the Park


Don's wife had asked him how the Men's Study Group had gone. She knew that they had just polished off the final chapter in some topical book. Job, she thought. He had come home week after week for ten weeks, saying very little.

Don was now being called upon to summarize, and he was finding it difficult. Being with the guys was always good, but it seemed that there was never any room in the evening for spontaneity. The role of facilitator was passed around from chapter to chapter, but the underlying agenda was always to get through the assigned pages. His attention had been drifting this time around and he found that he could not accurately report to Becky, although she was truly interested. Some author that everybody said was good, but still second-hand information when compared to the Book of books.

Why did they persist in doing this? Running to some study guide with one man's spin on things? Considering that in this fashion they were "doing their duty"? Was this truly fellowship? Two weeks ago it had seemed that it was on the tip of Brad's tongue to let go with some personal problem. Something was eating at him. His face said that he was elsewhere. But there was that chapter to get through. The opportunity was lost.

Don was starting to suspect that the problem went beyond the Men's Group at Crosspoints. It also put off the main body of the church from real engagement, real burden bearing, real examination of the scriptures. This was nothing like the thrill in his early years of faith when he had gobbled up the wonderfully consistent message of hope and of calling from Genesis to Revelation. Largely in his private time. Light gained which would never be forgotten. A true meeting with God, His thoughts and loving kindness. A true brotherly spirit with Jesus.

The next day at work, Don found himself musing on this predicament. Then suddenly, a recollection of something his father had said. Dad had been quite an exercise enthusiast, but eventually tired of the regimen. He said that he had come to know the total number of ceramic tiles in the bottom of the YMCA pool; the number of cracks in the sidewalk jogging around the downtown park. Then he got hold of a book from the military on aerobic exercise. The writer said that a work-out program should be as spontaneous and varied as the wanderings of a big dog in the park. Watch the animal. He will run uphill; sprint downhill; stop for a sniff at a tree; look overhead at some mocking crows; lope at an easy jog across the large playing field; walk while curiously examining some children at play on the swings; stop and catch his breath.

Could one's faith walk possibly take on such a fresh approach? Could one's willingness to go with the flow of the moment open up new opportunities in fellowship, in community, in fulfilling the Great Commission? Ask the Holy Spirit for refreshment, for guidance, for Jesus in the midst?

Something was wrong. He would have to take the risk and tell the guys.

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