Several months ago, I was cutting it close on mailing the electric bill payment, so, rather than risk being late, I drove to New Albany after work to drop my envelope in the payment slot. It seemed like a quick, easy trip, so I stopped by the house and picked up Maggie the Wonder Dog. She loves riding in the car, so it was supposed to be a treat for her.
I pulled up close to the slot and opened my car door, planning to hop out, quickly dash to the slot, drop in the envelope, and hop back into the car. It was supposed to take just a few seconds. I looked at Maggie, gave her a very firm "Stay!" and, quicker than my hop and dash, she was out the door. Thrilled with new territory, she ran in circles like a maniac dog. Grinning as only a dog can do, she was running as fast as her short little legs would go. Desperate to keep her from getting hit by passing traffic, I started to give chase, but soon realized that was making it worse. She thought we were playing a game.
Two very nice men, who frankly looked a little rough and scary, stopped their truck and hopped out. I was not sure what to expect, but they were unbelievably sweet. "Hey lady, let us help you catch your little dog!" they said. Maggie liked being chased by three adults even better than by her mama alone. Finally, I just sat down. I was trying hard not to cry from pure frustration and fear. "Maggie, come!" I commanded. Much to my surprise, she came and hopped right in my lap. "Well, how about that?" the men said, as I thanked them and they got back into their truck to drive away. I was not at all happy with my silly dog. This may have been a treat for her, but it definitely wasn't a treat for me!
Today, I needed to make the same dash to drop in the envelope so it wouldn't be late. As I approached the Blue Springs exit, I thought, "I should go get Maggie. She would love the ride." Just as quickly I remembered her awful escapade outside the Electric Department the last time. "Nope, not gonna happen this time," I said, as I drove past the exit. Maggie's failure to obey the last time cost her a fun treat today. I wasn't taking a chance on her again.
Disobedience is a tricky thing, isn't it? At the time, it just seems like we have to do whatever it is that we are not supposed to do (or not do whatever it is we should do.) That wonderful wrong thing never does turn out quite like I planned it. Discipline usually comes pretty quickly for me, and that's a good thing. What I have never considered before today is whether or not my consequences for disobedience include more than the obvious conviction and discipline.
As I drove toward New Albany, I wondered how many times I have missed a God-adventure because of past disobedience. Does God ever think about a fun adventure with me, then say, "Nope. I think I'll get someone else"? I know that He forgives our sin, and I know that He removes it as far as the east is from the west, but it is not outside the truth in Scripture to think that, maybe, part of the discipline is a little delay in service while we learn from our errors. Just as I held Maggie close when she came back to me, He is quick to comfort us in our repentance, but perhaps He is as careful about risking us again as I am about Maggie. Maybe He waits until He is sure of our dependability.
That sounds pretty awful, doesn't it? Tonight, disobedience seems a lot less attractive. In fact, it seems totally pointless. I love God-adventures, and I don't want to miss a single one. The next time I want to do (or say, or think) something I shouldn't, I hope I remember Maggie and the missed adventure. Maybe you should, too.