It occurred to me while walking my dog Dabo the other day, that living in this fallen world is a lot like being on a leash. Dabo loves to take walks, but I can see it's frustrating for him to be tethered to me. He wants to be free - to run in circles if he wants to, to chase the ducks sitting by the pond, to run after other dogs with not a care in the world. But no...he has to be on a leash. He has to be restrained, held back, forced to deny his passions and impulses.
Now from my viewpoint, of course, the leash is protecting Dabo. He doesn't have the good sense not to run out in front of a car, so the leash is potentially keeping him alive. But not from Dabo's point of view. To him, the leash is a kind of death. He's been created to run loose, not to be pulled this way and that against his will. He's been made for freedom, for fun and games, for joy. The leash is a curse.
Similarly, we were created as God's vice-regents to rule the world with freedom and joy, to be fully alive and human, to explore the universe without restraint or compulsion. But sin ruined that picture. Sure, we still bear God's image, and in our better moments we still create, explore, celebrate, worship, and love. But we never get very far away from the curse. Pain in childbirth, work made oppressive, hiding in shame, blaming our problems on others, misplaced affections - all are the leash we must tolerate this side of heaven. Not to mention loss, sickness, death, and the constant temptations of the world, flesh, and devil.
Whenever I take Dabo on a walk, we always go past this lake in our subdivision. Actually it's a retention pond. But there's a huge expanse of grass beside this lake that belongs to no homeowner. It's sitting there just begging for dogs to run around and play in it. So I always take Dabo off his leash by that lake, and we run around in a big circle. Sometimes he sees a big bird or a family of ducks at the shore, and he takes off after them, imagining himself the Vicious Lake Bouncer of Eastwood. We have the best time...for a short time. Then it's back on the leash for Dabo, and the slow, restrained walk home.
The last time Dabo and I did the lake routine, I thought of my friends Fran and Christie. They both passed away last weekend. They were faithful men, true servants of Christ. In this life they'd been tethered to this fallen, sin-sick world. When they breathed their last, off came the leash. They were in Paradise.
Run free, Fran. Run free, Christie. And await with joy that great day when we will be finally and fully set free to run and play upon the new earth.