I live in the country. No manicured yards. No stop signs. Just acres of woods, lakes, fresh air, and wild animals. Its the animals that make things most interesting, and I never know what sort of critter is going to show up. Through the years, we’ve had deer, coyotes, turkeys, rabbits and even an occasional bear come to visit. Just the other day, we had another visitor. It was a lost dog. A Beagle to be exact. This little guy spent the afternoon chasing rabbits in the woods behind my house. How do I know? Because Beagles don’t just sneak along quietly as they trail a rabbit. Instead, they howl at the top of their lungs…by my count, about every 30 seconds. And, This is not a tiny little “city dog” sort of woofing… Oh no. This is a classic BARROOOOO!!! that would easily wake the dead several counties away.

To hear this for a few minutes is somewhat entertaining. To hear a dog carry on this way for a half hour might produce a sense of admiration for it’s determination. However, when it goes on for an hour and a half, nonstop, it becomes annoying. So, I finally headed back into the woods to see if I could convince the Beagle to head back to wherever his home was so there could be some peace and quiet at mine. He wasn’t hard to find…I just followed the sound of the happy hound and after crashing through briars, brambles, berry bushes and trees, I walked right up to him. Now, I confess that I was in no mood for a Lassie moment. Frankly, I was upset at this intruder for disturbing the all-important cleaning of my garage before winter. Time for the showdown…

My intent was to holler and shoo him away. But something very interesting happened when we finally came face to face. I gave him my loudest, scariest yell, but instead of running away, he let out another BARROOOOO!!! and walked right toward me. On his face was the most satisfied look I have ever seen on man or beast. It looked like he was actually smiling! Not the kind of smile that says “Oh, thank you, wonderful human being for rescuing me from being lost…” But, rather the kind of dog-smile that said “Oh, glad your here. Want to chase a few rabbits with me?” His tail wagged and even though he had been chasing bunnies for hours, he was still ready to run some more.

As he got closer to me, I noticed something else. Not only was the dog wearing a collar, but he was dragging behind him what looked like a long, black rope. Clearly, this was the same rope that his owner hoped would keep the dog tethered to his appointed place. Hmmm… Seeing the rope, I realized that this little guy was not “lost”, at least not in the usual sense of the word. No, as I petted him, I understood that he could be much better descried as “found”. You see, that “rope” that he dragged behind was actually a plastic coated, multiple strand wire. What amazed me was that the wire had been chewed in two by my noisy, new friend. Since the dog was well fed and obviously well cared for, I wondered why he’d gone through the pain of actually chewing his way to freedom. Here’s what made sense to me.

The dog spent much of his life doing what someone else wanted him to do. He likely had an owner that kept him tied up until the owner was ready to hunt, perhaps once or twice a month, during the hunting season. However, instead of accepting that reality, my canine friend realized that he was created to do one primary thing…chase rabbits, and not just when someone else wanted him to chase them. This was to be his full time occupation! That drive inside prevented the pup from laying around, waiting for someone else to unleash him. Instead, he took matters into his own hands…sorry, make that teeth, and literally chewed through woven wire so that he could follow after his heart. It because crystal clear that my little buddy wasn’t really lost. Instead, he was found, right where he wanted to be, doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing.

Well, my annoyance gave way to admiration so I gave the dog the best ear scratching he’d likely had in a long time. Then, I pointed him to a thicket where I knew he’d find a bunny or two and turned him loose. I knew that eventually the dog would get hungry and back track his way home. But, for that one afternoon, I wanted him to chase HIS dreams and to feel the power of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Soon, he cranked up his wonderful chorus and I went back to cleaning the garage.

Here’s what I learned from the bunny chasing Beagle. In our own lives, we can get tied down to a situation in life where we may be “safe”, but unfulfilled. Like my four-legged buddy, we can have our basic needs met, but still feel like there’s something more out there for us to do. For this reason, we need to put down the push broom or turn off the TV or un-friend ourselves from Facebook for a minute and listen for that still, small voice inside that says “you were made for more than this…stop sitting around waiting, its time for a change.”

Now, this sort of change won’t happen immediately, but once it starts, nothing will stop it. I can’t imagine how long it took that Beagle to chew through the wire to gain his freedom, but I know it started with a single bite.

Here’s my confession. In my own life, I have spent years tending to obligations and heeding suggestions from others. Too often, I’ve been bound by something other than my core purpose which, for the past quarter century was to be a father and for the next quarter century is to teach others about parenting. There, I said it. While I love working in the corporate world where there is ample provision and plenty of people that love what I do, its not the center of my calling. It will take me a while to chew through the wire of business obligations and financial shortfalls, but with every bite I’ll be one step closer to running with the wild abandon that is found only in the center of one’s purpose. That’s worth a bit of pain, don’t you think?

Okay. I’ve made my confession and my decision. I’m going to start chewing today. Now, its your turn. Are you pursuing your purpose or are you waiting for someone else to chew the wire so you can run? BARROOOOO!!!