Galatians 5:16-17 (NRSV)
16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
Humans are like a dog I used to have. The dog came from a litter of puppies my brother and I found in a barn located close to the parsonage where we lived at the time in Haysville, North Carolina. We quickly recruited all the neighborhood children to help us find good homes for each of the puppies who appeared to have been abandoned by their mother. After a day of knocking on doors, we found homes for all of the puppies except for the runt of the litter. My brother and I ended up taking him home hoping our parents would agree to let us keep him.
We named the puppy "Ha Cha," the Quechan Indian name for "Dog." The name suited the puppy since he was nothing more than a Heinz variety mutt. After a year or two, the residents of Haysville started calling him "The Mayor." Everyone in town knew Ha Cha. Every afternoon he made his rounds visiting the uptown businesses and a variety of homes, mostly places where he could get food.
Ha Cha was a scrapper, a fighter. It wasn't unusual for him to come home with a cut or scrap of some kind. His left ear was in two pieces as a result of being torn or cut during one of his escapades. Ha Cha loved chasing cars. This left him with all kinds of battle scars including the eventual loss of the part of the left ear that was previously torn in two.
Ha Cha was not a handsome dog. In fact, he was ugly. Ha Cha was homely but he wasn't dumb. We trained him to roll over in order to receive his dinner. He became so skilled that when we called him for supper he would come running through the neighborhood, start rolling at the edge of the yard, and roll all the way up to the front steps landing on all four of his legs, panting for his food.
As hard as we tried, we could not stop Ha Cha from chasing cars. One day Ha Cha chased a Ford Mustang down the road after it passed our house. The front wheel caught him, pulling him under the car. As he came rolling out from underneath the speeding Mustang, I figured he was well on his way to dog heaven. But Ha Cha emerged from underneath the car landing on all fours just like at supper time. He took off yelping and crying. Several hours later he appeared in the yard licking his wounds. By the next day, he was back to his old shenanigans-chasing cars, putting his life at risk.
If there was a twelve-step program for car chasing dogs, Ha Cha needed to be in it. Unfortunately his lust for chasing cars caught up with him. When we moved from Haysville, we gave Ha Cha to a neighbor. The neighbor reported to us several months later that Ha Cha died after being run over by a car.
Ha Cha reminds me of our propensity to do those things over and over again that can harm our spirits and kill our souls. We desire those things that we know are harmful and yet we continue to seek them out like a dog chasing after a car. Lust (misdirected desire) as someone has said, is like being "shackled to a lunatic. It is craving for salt by a person who is dying of thirst." Lust confuses us into thinking that what we pursue is what we need.
What we pursue is, at least to some degree, an indication to what we desire. God wishes for us to desire him. God is always pursuing us hoping for a relationship that will transform our lives. So, are you pursuing those things that will bring positive and healthy change in your life? Are you pursing God and God's ways or are you like Ha Cha chasing every car that comes along thinking that will bring satisfaction and fulfillment to your life? Think about it.