Come or Free

By Katherine Callahan-Howell at

My last blog mentioned part of my dog’s obedience training included learning the command Wait. She is released from that with the command Come or Free.

One scenario for this command happens when I open the back door. My dog Roo is told wait to be sure the coast is clear. She is protective of our property, and if an unsuspecting stranger wanders by she is likely to head out with a vengeance. To protect others and herself she is verbally restrained until I ascertain the space is safe. If I’m not going outside, she is then told Free. Free means she is free to go where she pleases, because the fenced in backyard is a safe place for her and away from others.

If we are going together, the gate might be open but I am accompanying her and I say Come. In this case she is coming with me, and I am the gate, the monitor of safety either with a leash or verbal command.

As I spend the year with the word Wait, these other commands also come to mind. When God tells me to wait, I am eager to be released. I want to run free, and at times God releases me, into a safe space, and I am allowed my freedom to explore.

But more often when Wait ends, the alternative is Come. Jesus calls me forward. The privilege of following cannot be overstated. This week I drove to my daughter’s house, a familiar trip. Having just driven there two weeks prior, relying on a navigation system seemed unnecessary. While cheerfully talking to a friend, I reached a major change of highways and thought I navigated it correctly. An hour later when I hung up, I realized my mistake.

That particular interchange has caused us problems before, it’s counterintuitive and requires attention, which I did not give it. Following the guidance of the Spirit looms even larger than the voice of Siri explaining the correct turn and like in that case can save me wasted time and gas and energy pursuing the wrong route. Come means Jesus and I are traveling together, and although the road may be long and circuitous, I can trust my Guide and the end result.

I love the freedom given to wander on my own in a safe space. But I’d rather hear Come, and know I’m accompanied on the way. One of the most significant uses of that word in Scripture happens when Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In my waiting the best call forward springs from the call to Come to Jesus. Come and rest. Come and learn. As a write this on the Lord’s Day, I hear those words calling me to center on Christ.

Wait. Come. Free. These words frame my days. Lord give me ears to hear and a heart to obey.

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