Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Listen for the Soul Whisperer

I have recently become a fan of the television show, The Dog Whisperer, which airs on the National Geographic Channel. When I first saw advertisements for the show, I quickly ruled it out as one I would be interested in. I imagined an arrogant person posing as a "pet psychic" who claimed to communicate with animals by reading their minds. You may laugh, but I saw a similar show on cable just a few weeks ago. You can't make this stuff up!

Anyway, while home with a nasty virus over the weekend, I channel-surfed my way to back-to-back episodes of this show. With nothing better to do, I decided to tune in. I was pleasantly surprised.

Rather than some New Age animal psychic, the show’s pet expert is actually a dog behavior specialist, Cesar Millan, who spends more of his time training the human pet owners than he spends training their unruly pets.

The way he works is fascinating. On each episode, viewers write in and explain the problems they are having with their dogs. Millan tackles everything from aggressive behavior with other dogs to incessant barking.  In each case, it only takes him moments to transform the animal’s behavior. But what is really interesting is that to accomplish this transformation in the dogs, he must first teach the humans what they are doing wrong.

In each of the four pet “cases” I watched Millan solve, he said the dogs were acting out because their owners were not being good leaders. In a pack of dogs, he explained, there is always a leader. Inevitably, once the human pet owners figure out they need to be the leader, the problems they are experiencing with the dogs quickly go away.

As he works with the dogs and their owners, Millan explains that the dogs need to be in a “calm submissive state” before they will obey. This means they are not agitated or excited, nor are they trying to get their own way. They are relaxed and ready to follow any commands their owners give them. Remarkably, teaching the dogs to attain this calm, surrendered state solved all of their behavior problems.

As I watched the show, it suddenly hit me that the same principle can be applied to our spiritual lives. Scripture tells us that we, too, have a leader: 

“... make sure that in your hearts you honor Christ as Lord.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIRV)

That means God gets to be the leader; we should do as He instructs us.

Just like the dogs on the show, my life tends to become filled with anxiety when I am scurrying around working feverishly in my own strength, or barking loudly to get my own way, rather than following my Leader. If I were to stop, attain a “calm and surrendered state” through prayer, and wait patiently for God to show me the next step, things would go much more smoothly.

It is only in those quiet moments, when I am submissive to God’s plans, that I can hear Him whisper instructions to my soul. From now on when I start to notice I’m being pulled into a frenzied state by life’s circumstances, I will stop and calmly surrender to the Lord.

May I be able to say with the Psalmist,

“My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek." Psalm 27:8 (NIV)

For it is only then that I know my anxious soul will find peace.

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