Dog friend Hannah loves the morning walk.

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When she sees me grab the walking shoes she begins to vibrate with excitement. If T.Boone Pickens wants to find an untapped energy source we should harness Labrador tails. Got to think Hannah could power a small apartment building when she gets excited and that tail starts going. I love the morning walk as well. It is a time to meditate, pray, listen to messages and good music and enjoy God's company.

The walk is pretty much the same each day for Hannah. She checks for new messages left by other dog friends on her social network. Sometimes she leaves a reply. She gets excited when she sees another person or dog or, to be honest, anything breathing. Hannah loves life. But I noticed something about my canine friend today that caused me to reflect on my own faith journey.

Hannah is happy to just get out and go walking. The fact that she is on a leash does not keep her from heading out the door in anticipation and despite that restriction she still finds lot of stimulation along the way. Today the park we regularly visit was empty. There is a chance that we were in temporary violation of city code 5544 today. On the backside of the park there is a wooded area and I felt comfortable letting Hannah off the leash. She became energized by her new freedom. She ran ahead of me and turned and ran back. She spotted a squirrel several yards away and she instinctively froze. Her body tensed in anticipation, she crouched down and took a couple of slow, deliberate stalking steps toward the critter. Then she bolted at the squirrel at full throttle with ears flying in the wind. The squirrel darted up the tree and Hannah stopped, looked up the tree and turned with a look of complete satisfaction as she trotted back toward me. She had a dog smile from ear to ear. It occurred to me that Hannah is fully alive when she is off the leash. Her freedom gave her such joy and energy. The squirrels did not care so much for Hannah's release to her canine calling. When we reached the front part of the park I called her and re-attached the leash. Her body language was still happy but there was not quite as much spring in her step.She had lost her freedom.

For some reason Hannah's foray into freedom made me think about my journey with Jesus. I have spent too many years on the leash of legalism and performance based acceptance. When I take off that collar of bondage and put on the no leash allowed collar of grace I am free to be fully alive in Christ. There is a bounce in my step and spirit. In the freedom of grace I am realizing and believing who God says I am. Unleashed in grace I am understanding and trusting who God says He is. I could live on the leash and get by. I know that to be true because I have done it. Most of you wouldn't really notice my constraints. I would still have fun and enjoy the journey just as Hannah enjoys the restricted part of her walk. But why should I accept partial freedom when God is offering complete freedom in His amazing grace? Take off whatever leash is holding you back today and walk (or run with ears flying) in grace. You were created to be in relationship with God. Don't settle for walking with Him on some self-imposed leash. God's grace can unhook the leash and allow you to run in freedom and worship. God will love watching you joyfully run in freedom.

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.