A story is told of a dog named Gypsy, who was fortunate to be in possession of several hundred acres of hills and woods, streams and rabbit borrows and any number of distractions needed and wanted by an inquisitive creature. Gypsy's life was one of ease and opportunity with only certain conditions. She was not to go near the chickens, she was to come when called, sit when asked, lie down when told and she was never compelled to learn tricks. In exchange for her obedience and loyalty she was fed and given a comfortable bed and she was loved. There was a place by the fireplace on cold nights and scraps from the Master's table. It was unspoken but intended that she love in return, after all it is in a dog's nature, and as a result of her love to obey. 'Those who love, obey; those who obey, love.'
One day while Gypsy was wandering, two simultaneous events occurred: her Master called her home and a rabbit jumped out of a bush beside her. Gypsy's first reaction was in turning and racing towards her Master, as she had always done. This time she stopped. It entered her mind that she did not have to obey. A strange and subtle betrayal, almost innocent. But not quite: corruption is never compulsory. Perhaps her Master did not understand about the rabbit, or know of the enjoyment and pleasure she got from the chase, and further to that this was her pasture. She began in that instance to think that it was all lies -- the story that everything really belonged to the Master. How unlikely that the food in her dish came from him - she was sure that there were other more reasonable explanations. At this moment she was a free dog and that was the thing and the end. As she stood and thought all these thoughts the rabbit reappeared and without further consideration she whirled and gave chase.
She had made a choice. She was free to choose.
Hours later she went home. Her master was waiting. She did not run to him gladly, leaping, frisking in his company, something had changed, something new had entered into her demeanor and character. She saw the Master waiting and slunk towards him, penitent and remorseful.
There was new knowledge in her now - knowledge of sin and the possibilities of sin - and the thrill that was a recent memory in her heart and the taste that was a fresh flavour to her soul.
Penitence was for this moment, eventually there was another rabbit - and there was no hesitation, soon it was just the possibility of a rabbit, and then the rabbit thing was dropped altogether.
The Master still loved Gypsy, but, he could no longer trust her. With continued disobedience and the promise of further and more serious inerrant behavior, the Master kenneled Gypsy and she could only go walking while on a leash. Her freedoms were gone.
At different times the Master, desiring to allow Gypsy the life and freedoms she had had, would allow her the opportunity to explore and run free. On these occasions, unfortunately, she always chose, if she as out of reach, to run away. Those chances to have freedom and to be trusted again had to reflect her desire to obey as an act of her free-will. A broken-heart is a tender obstacle to trust. The Master's desire was always out of love to allow Gypsy her freedom within the boundaries of obedience. At the core of the Master's heart, was his willingness to express through blessing, his grace, mercy and forgiveness and his fondest wish, to have the relationship of trust and faith and love restored. His provision for Gypsy earned that right and Gypsy's hunger is always what brought her home. Love is the final reality; and anyone who dos not understand this, be he writer or sage, is a man flawed in wisdom.
One day, while on a trip away from her home, Gypsy made the ultimate break of freedom. At the edge of a wooded area far from home, Gypsy was overcome by her desire and the thrill of the run and she broke away and fled. Her hunger for freedom, perilous, motivated by a bent will of disobedience, quieted the hunger for the Master's care. The Master called, sharply, with a note of urgency, but Gypsy's ears had been dulled with constant calling. Gypsy ran away, was lost and finally abandoned.
While on the way home, recently, I noticed on a frozen slough a small dog, alone. From the highway, at highway speeds I was unable to determine if the dog had on a collar. I thought for a few minutes on whether the dog was lost, forgotten, abandoned or had run away. Those thoughts soon gave way to the weight of the predicament. With no sign of an inhabited farmyard within a few miles it would soon become an immanent need that the dog found shelter and safety. The outcome, otherwise, was going to be the terrible reality of becoming a meal for a Coyote. It was no longer an issue of lostness or freedom or the choosing, suddenly, there would be no more choosing.