The 100-Yard Chapel Sprint By Jo Russell

According to caring dog trainers, good canine behavior starts with simple commands: “Come,” “Sit,” “Stay” and “Heel.” The last command is translated “behaves sensibly on a leash.”

Fletcher, the basset hound, towed the twelve-year-old, Rick, around the block like a lawn tractor. He bolted to strangers for a treat. He followed his nose to places where no dog had ever been. He was, most of the time, lovable, but not perfect. Often, it took him several tries to get things right.

In the summer church camp where the Charlene and son lived and worked, they welcomed new groups every week and worked with guests. Fletcher stayed home. Once the family pet got used to the boring routine,  the dog wasn’t happy sticking to the yard around the family’s log cabin. There were eighty-two wooded acres of camp that needed the talents of his nose. After a ride home from a picnic with Charlene and her son, Fletcher bolted from the truck into the trees, heading for music and people who would love his sad eyes and smooth coat. Petting and the snacks were guaranteed with this crowd.

“Rick!” Charlene called to her son. “Catch Fletcher! Run!” The lanky twelve-year-old sprinted along a dirt path after the dog, but without a leash. His first strategy was to check behind the cafeteria where the staff tossed leftovers on the slope, like sandwiches and waffles. Fletcher loved to lick up leftovers, and Rick found him there. Not for long. The powerful muscled dog pulled away from the boy at a run as his legs churned to the wide open chapel doors. Fletcher’s ears twirled like batons. He barked in joyful rhythm to the music inside, and then dashed down the aisle. As he whirled around and headed to the open door, the dog stopped for a moment.

Just then Charlene drove up in the truck with the leash. She heard laughter through the open doors of the chapel. Dangling his favorite snack, a piece of bread, out the window, she shouted,  “Here, Fletcher!”

And at last, the canine followed directions as he sniffed his way to the truck.

Someone laughed, “That dog must be an evangelist!”

Even though the dog flunked some commands, God used Fletcher that day as several came to the altar that day chuckling. It was a time anyone could change their heart and life with Jesus, and humor nudged each along.

God’s call is to all who are imperfect. He may use us as we are or hone us with new experiences to be even better. He might even give us more chances to get it right.

But best of all, He’s not finished with us yet.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.] 

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