I threw the tennis ball in a perfect arc across the living room. The dog leaped airborne, soaring off the sofa and running before her feet hit the floor. She caught the ball on the first bounce and brought it back, dripping with dog spit, to drop at my feet.
Back and forth we repeated this ritual: toss, retrieve, repeat. Over and over. Again and again.
How does she find this entertaining? I wondered after the second hour of this mind-numbing repetition. How does she not get tired of doing this hour after hour, day after day?
But when I considered why this game, which seems so boring and pointless to me, is important and interesting to my dog, I realized there may be a lesson here that I need to learn.
How often I feel I am playing fetch with my own life. How many times I felt I have caught all my goals, only to have them escape from my grasp and fly away, forcing me to run after them again.
My dog doesn’t ask, Why do you keep tossing that ball? She doesn’t wonder, What’s the purpose of chasing this again? She chases the ball because for her, the pursuit is the purpose.
My dog follows the ball for the excitement and challenge of the hunt. She leaps and runs across the room because the exercise builds strength, speed and stamina. The practice teaches her to jump higher, reach farther, and catch faster on the next toss. She knows that if she keeps chasing the ball, someday she will jump high enough to catch it on the fly.
God often uses activities that look like play to teach us skills we need to learn. He allows us to experience the excitement and challenge of the hunt. Repetitive practice builds strength, speed, and stamina for the future. Chasing, catching, and releasing our dreams is often teaching us to persist in pursuing our goals.
Throwing the tennis ball for my dog reminds me that when what I want is out of my reach, I need to get off the couch and go after it. If it flies free again, I need to follow it further. And no matter how many times I drop the ball, I will keep pursuing, chasing, and retrieving because I know that someday I will jump high enough to catch it on the fly.
And I know that if the pursuit is the purpose, catching everything I wanted wouldn’t be fun anymore.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my dog is waiting to play.
What are you chasing today? How has God taught you to persist in the pursuit of your goals?