Rich and I went on a short anniversary trip to Fairbanks this month, enjoying the beauty of the nearby Chena Hot Springs as well. While we were there, we signed up for a tour of Chena Dog Kennel, home to both retired and up-and-coming sled dogs as well as ones who love the trail, but just aren’t fast enough for the elite dog mushers.
We didn’t tour the kennels too much. We were too busy enjoying the pup he brought indoors for us to play with and peppering him with a million questions. We loved it.
(Rich is on the left, our tour guide on the right)
It wasn’t even a spiritual conversation. Our tour guide didn’t mean to cut my soul to the quick during our “tour.” But he did.
He shared how there are two types of lead dogs: Command Leaders and Trail Leaders.
Trail Leader dogs know the trail so well they could lead the dog team without the musher. They don’t get lost. They don’t run off. They are trustworthy. They know their job and do it with alacrity and joy.
Command Leader dogs have that same alacrity and joy, but they may or may not know the trail, or they may be entirely off-trail. It doesn’t matter. They listen for their musher’s voice and respond. They can be trusted wherever the musher takes them.
It makes me think of parenting. What parent wants their kid to be one who is just along for the run, pulling their weight? Who even wants their child to be a leader, but one who simply runs the trail correctly? A wise parent wants their child to be Command Leader, attuned to the values and morals they were taught, so that no matter what the trail of life brings them, they can respond with alacrity and joy.
Since when has the trail of life ever been simple and unchanging, anyway?
And what about my spiritual life? Am I a Trail Leader or a Command Leader?
Do I check off all the Christian boxes? Church attendance, check. Read Bible daily, check. Pray before a meal, check. Run the trail as usual, check.
Or do I feel safe when God leads me off the trail into glorious, beautiful, mysterious parts unknown, because I am attuned to His voice?
John 10:27 “My (dogs) listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” — Jesus refers to us as sheep, not dogs, but the point is the same, lol.
Psalm 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. —uh, Who else would we trust but our Creator?
May God lead you off the trail into glorious, beautiful, mysterious parts unknown as you listen to His voice!
PS. As an aside, life is like dog mushing…a leader is not the one in charge. The Musher is, as in Jesus Christ. Life is also NOT like dog mushing…a leader is not necessarily the one out front. There are many ways to be a leader and impact the world for good other than being out front.
PSS. After our “tour,” which lasted longer than expected as we asked question after question, we were invited to watch them prepare the dogs to take some tourists on a run. To keep the dogs healthy and engaged, they do this on wheeled carts year-round, even without snow. Rich was petting one of the dogs when she was not “chosen”—don’t feel sorry for her; her turn eventually came. The poor, silly thing literally climbed up Rich and began whining. These dogs LOVE to run.