Heel: A Lesson on Keeping in Step

If we live by the Spirit let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”- Galatians 5:25, NIV

In the world of education, I am what you would call a visual learner.  This means a picture or illustration gives me a deeper understanding of a concept.  The God who created me knows this.  So, He will often use elements of His creation to help me better comprehend what I am studying in His word. 

One morning as I walked Adi, a snippet of a verse kept tumbling through my mind- “. . . keep in step with the Spirit.”  My visual brain was wondering exactly how this looks when I happened to glance down at Adi.  She was contentedly trotting by my side in the heel position. “That’s it,” I thought.

When on heel, a dog’s front legs line up with your legs.  In the book Family Dog, trainer Richard Wolters explains that a dog on heel has learned “he’s walking with you, not you with him.”  In this position, Adi’s leash hangs limply between us, she is relaxed, and more attentive to my directions.  The same is true when I choose to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.  I am more content, relaxed, and attentive to the Lord’s leading.  As a result, the fruit of the Spirit [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control- Galatians 5:22] are more visible in me.

I wish I could say that Adi remains on heel for our entire walk.  Certain things will trigger her to fall out of step with me.  An intriguing smell that has grabbed her attention may cause her to fall behind as she seeks to get a longer and closer whiff.  The sight of an approaching person may draw her ahead of me.  Left unchecked she will charge up on them and give an overly exuberant Labrador welcome.

Like my Lab, I too will fall out of step with the Holy Spirit when I follow my natural inclinations.  Pride, fear, worry, frustration, self centeredness, busyness . . . draw me away.  Just like a firm tug on the leash draws Adi back to my side, the Holy Spirit will tug my conscience drawing me back to Him.

With each new day, my desire is to be in step with the Holy Spirit as articulated in this prayer of gratitude by Tony Evans.

Ruach Hakkodesh [Holy Spirit], thank you for the closeness of your presence. Thank you for your whispering voice when I’m in danger.  Thank you for convicting me of sin before I commit it.  Thank you for guiding me with wisdom.  Thank you for being the everlasting Ruach Hakkodesh and for always being there when I need you the most.”

Dr. Tony Evans

Evans, Tony.  Praying Through the Names of God.  Harvest House Publishers, 2014.

Wolters, Richard.  Family Dog.  Dutton, 1975.

© 2019-2021, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved.

16 thoughts on “Heel: A Lesson on Keeping in Step

  1. A wonderful lesson and visual Beth. It is so easy to get out of step with the Father, with all the distractions around us. But I think He knows that and always has a way to bring us back in step with him from, like you said, visual walks with Him. I love how He does that for us.

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    1. Gary, I could only imagine Adi’s response to your deer. Her curiosity would definitely draw her away and she would probably make every effort to engage the old doe in some frolic and play. I laughed out loud when I read “oh the fish are biting.” My father and brothers are fishermen and hunters. Those words and “Did you see/hear that?” most definitely have a way of shifting one’s attention and position. Then again I’ve always admired the focus they have while sitting in the boat, duck blind, or tree stand as they wait for the bounty to arrive. I believe there is a lesson from a fisherman/hunter in that. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thank you GW! I often find myself thinking how the birds, squirrels, deer, flowers, trees . . . and my own pets know without a doubt who their Creator is and live to His glory (Psalm 19:1 & Romans 1:19-21). I guess that’s why I love being outside in nature with Adi by my side. Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. Thank you Pastor Pete! I’m so glad that you enjoy the lessons and greatly appreciate your encouragement. After reading your comment, I asked Adi, who’s lying at my feet, if she wanted to co-author a book. Her head jerked up, her ears cocked and she gave a singular woof. For a dog who doesn’t speak much that said a lot:)

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