james ray johnson

The hymn says, “He leadeth me,” but does He?  Does God really reach down from heaven and direct me as I make my way through life?

If so how?   Does He navigate a metaphysical map app and speak to us in a Siri voice?   That might be creepy?

And suppose He does lead us – do I necessarily want to go where He is leading?  

Consider Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the Lord, your Protector, says, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you how to succeed, who leads you in the way you should go.”   NET Bible®.

That answers 2 out of 3 of my questions.  Yes, God does guide us.  He “leads us in the way in which we should go.”  And yes, we probably want to follow His lead because He “teaches us to succeed.”   Who wouldn’t want that?  Only the “how” question remains to be answered.

Sure, the Word of God is a great help.  He gives us such wonderful specific direction there about life and marriage and money and parenting and so on.  But the verse seems to be talking about God’s personal intervention.

Perhaps Jake could help?  Jake was a dog – a heeler to be exact.  He was a solid, sturdy, compact dog that was bred to herd sheep and cattle. 

Heelers have coats that are speckled with either blue or a red flecks.  We preferred Jake who was a Blue Heeler.  He complemented my eyes.

Jake had once been one of several working dogs on a cattle ranch in New Mexico.  For some reason the other dogs decided they didn’t like Jake anymore.  They refused to work with him.  (You know how things can be in the work place.)  

Anyway, my son happened along as the rancher was about to give the dog the pink slip (which clashed with his blue specks).  He rescued Jake and took him to his home in the Rockies.  But Jake eventually returned the favor.  He courageously chased a bear from the front porch.

My son did some transitioning, so Jake eventually wound up moving in with us in Texas.  

I understand that the heeler breed originated in Australia. He is part Collie and part Dingo.  Or maybe it was part dingy, because that he was.

He once ran into a brick wall head first which didn’t help his mental stability. 

And he had an obnoxious habit of howling through the night unless he was in bed with you. His howl was an ear piercing elongated, “oooooo” – like a police siren except out of tune.   Maybe that’s why the other heelers shunned him.  A working dog needs his sleep. 

So, what does all this have to do with God?  Keep reading!

My wife and I would occasionally take Jake for a walk.  This was always a memorable experience.   We let him wander without a leash, but he always stayed very near.  In fact, he would pace to and fro, back and forth all around us.  We were being herded – like a couple of cows. 

We walked down the center of our quiet street but if we moved close to the curb (where the wolves lurk) he would cut us off and force us to redirect.  I don’t how many times I almost tripped over that dog.   He would work the right and then the left, but always kept us centered.

If we were to stop and greet a neighbor, he would bump our heels to get us moving again.  Another skill he learned in the livestock business.  Hence the name “heeler.”

I sometimes wondered if he was leading us to the tattoo parlor to be branded!   

I suspect that God guides us much as Jake did.

You didn’t get that job for which you applied. Maybe God blocked the path because it was a diversion from his ultimate best for you. 

You met your fiancé at church even though she lives 2 hours away and you intended to skip church that day.  Could it be that God bumped your heel to get you out of bed, to be there with her in the same place at the same time?   

You and your business partner eventually went your separate ways.  Three years later he was indicted for fraud.  Could it be that God allowed that rift to fester in order to protect you? 

Yes God “leads us in the way in which we should go.”   His sovereign guidance is mysterious, wise and wonderful and oh so effective as He watches over and directs us.  For this I am grateful.