There are so many things to love about my dog Rupert: his silky black fur, his apricot paws, the way he greets us each morning wriggling with excitement, how he chews leaves, tugs at our laces, runs off with our socks, and unravels toilet rolls.
One of his most adorable acts is taking his collar in his mouth and walking himself round the room.
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When he was a puppy we faced one major battle with our bundle of canine cuteness – going out for walks. Taking Rupert to the park meant pulling him out of the door and dragging him up the footpath. We had the whole world to show him, but he was too afraid to see it.
One day, finally successful in getting him to the park, I let Rupert off his leash as a reward. Naive. He gave me a mischievous look, took his collar in his mouth, then sprinted around the corner and down the road. By the time I caught up he’d made it all the way home, back to his place of safety.
It reminds me of the time I got talking to a man sitting next to me on a plane. As we started taxiing the man apologised to me. “I’m going to get drunk on this flight,” he said.
“It sounds like you don’t want to,” I replied.
“I don’t, but I always run back to the wine.”
He did as he said he would, downing three bottles of wine during the flight, and the saddest part was watching his wife greet him enthusiastically on landing, then smelling his breath and pushing him away. Drink had become his place of safety, but it was no safe place at all.
Don’t run back to the safe places.
One of the first things Jesus said when he came on the scene was, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent!”
“Repent” just means “to turn around, to change direction”. In effect he was saying, “Don’t run back to the safe places. Don’t be ruled by your fears or addictions. You can be ruled by God himself, who will lead you to new places of life and freedom.”
Things progressed with Rupert. I took him back to the park a few days later and let him off his leash. He didn’t run home this time, but followed me into a wide open field. And there he ran and barked and wriggled with excitement.
This excerpt is taken from the new gift book Reflect with Sheridan by Sheridan Voysey, an Australian-born, British-based author, speaker and broadcaster. Watch him explain the heart behind Reflect with Sheridan.