Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:18 (NLT)
I love dog school. I love being with Cory each week. I love interacting with the other dog owners and absorbing the teaching of our instructor. But, mostly, I love having one hour a week to focus completely on my relationship with Cory. Because that is what it is, not simply dog training, but building that bond between Cory and me that will carry us through the hard work and teach her that she can trust me. While training goes on all week long, that hour of school each week is where I feel the most connection. She is learning that when I ask her to do something, I am not asking her to do anything that will hurt or harm her. When I ask her to lie down and she refuses, it is not because she does not want to lie down, but because she is not sure that if she is sprawled out on the floor of the training ring, with a dozen dogs around her that she will be safe. Particularly if she knows that I will give her a stay command and walk to the other side of the ring. When I ask her to stand for an examination, she has to trust me that the people who are going to touch her head, back and rear will not hurt her. And if they try to, I will protect her. Despite the stink of the training treats, dog slobber, dog hair on my clothes and occasional frustration, dog training is exciting to me as I watch Cory learn and know that she trusts me as she progresses each week. I was thinking about dog training when I was reading a chapter in the book I am currently reading, You’re Made for a God Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You by Holly Gerth. In the chapter on fear, Gerth compares fear to an aggravating Chihuahua. She reminds us that when we are about to embark on making our dream a reality fear will set in. Fear is a natural, God given emotion, designed to protect us from harm. Fear is not a sin, but it can lead us to sin, if allowed to go unchecked. When God tells us not to be afraid, he is reassuring us and encouraging us to stand firm and trust Him. As she talks about how to overcome fear, she makes a lot of references to dog training that both made me laugh and think. Some of them are: “You are the boss of fear and God is the boss of you. Fear has got to learn to sit and submit,” “Over time, fear learns who holds the leash and while those fears may still be in your yard, they will no longer be wreaking havoc on your life and dreams,” and “Fear needs a leash. If you can’t get fear to obey or go away, then, put it on a leash and bring it with you. Just remember you are in control, not fear.” At the end of the chapter, she gives a list of reasons why fear can work for us as we set out to make our God given dream a reality. The final one resonated with me because of my current season in life, “Fear pushes us to faith.” That’s what I want to happen when Cory and I are training together. I want her to put her faith in me. God feels the same way about us.