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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dog mushing and the Christian life

Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

My wife and I had the opportunity to do some mission work in Alaska in January.  One of the highlights was to be able to assist in the Copper Basin 300. It was a lot of fun getting to talk to the mushers and to watch how excited each of the dogs were as the lined up and were ready to start the race.  It was also great to see the relationship that was built between the dogs and the musher.

This past week I have been tracking the Yukon Quest as the Dog mushers guide their team of dogs from Fairbanks Alaska to White Horse Canada.  As I laid in bed the other night while tracking the teams I thought “What do dog mushing and walking the Christian walk have in common?” I came up with a few subtle likenesses.

1.  A good dog musher always continues to be busy during mushing season. A Christian should always endeavor to tell people about Jesus, in season and out of season. Paul said to the Christians in Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” We are to lay aside anything that hinders our progress.

2.  If a dog musher does not train his or her dogs, they cannot perform to their highest potential. The fact is, if they haven’t been trained at all they won’t function as a dog team.

A Christian who makes a hobby, his job or even his family No. 1 cannot grow spiritually and puts himself in a position to be deceived by the adversary. Usually, they get away from fellowship with other Christians and don’t attend church much. The Bible seems distant, and in fact the flesh will dominate their born-again spirit. Instead of walking in love, walking in the spirit will be just like the world — flesh rules looking out for only themselves.

I read a story from a musher that has raced in the Iditarod, here are some of his thoughts.

“I have raced the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race many times, and when you get up the trail a ways on the coast on a beautiful day where the sun is shining, you think you got it all together. It is exuberant; Utopia is a word I have used to describe it. Then the sun goes down and the wind picks up. The trail may have been wiped out and all you have is the next marker you can barely see with your headlamp. Then you feel very small and obscure.

I have heard of many mushers who have made a prayer to God in times like these to help them make it through, and if he does they pray they would do something, a promise, which most times they admit they don’t follow through with.”

When they pray, a lot of Christians ask God for something, but there are times we need to be quiet and listen. God speaks to his children through that still small voice, and sometimes he gives us direction. Right then, you know it’s from God, but if you do not move right away that inward witness prompting will become dull. Later, you try to reason it out in your head, and many times you will say that must have just been me and not do what God had asked.

3.  A good musher doesn’t speak of defeat, a champion speaks of success and victory.

Many Christians, during good times when everything is going smoothly, have a good confession speaking of their victory in Christ, but when things are not going well for them they speak of defeat, not proclaiming what God’s word says about them.

4.  As a dog musher, they are always faithful in their daily training of their sled dogs. As Christians, we should be willing and obedient to the walk set before us in the Scriptures. Jesus gave us a commandment — to walk in love, to love our neighbor — and it should be our daily goal to be obedient to walk the walk of love. We don’t want to be willing only, but also obedient. The love of God was shed abroad in our hearts when we were born again. We must allow that love to come forth.

Dear Lord , help us to be faithful in our Christian walk just as the dog mushers are in training their dogs. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

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