Our first adventure of the summer is our annual fishing trip. I pack up my children, my younger brother packs up his kids, our Dad packs up the fishing boat, and we all meet at a state park for a week of fishing.
Our Labrador Adi was only seven months old when this trip rolled around. Although she clearly loved the outdoors, I was unsure about how she would respond to sleeping in a tent in the woods. It didn’t help that I had just read a story about a chocolate Labrador whose first camping trip ended disastrously with the owner having to hike the dog back out of the woods to the car during the middle of the night. When I voiced my concern to my Mom, she responded with a statement I have never forgotten- “As long as you are there, she’ll be fine.”
Mom was correct. Adi took to camping like a duck to water.
I was reminded of Mom’s words at the onset of our fishing trip this year. Usually Dad and my brother take one group of kids out fishing in the boat while Adi and I remain shoreside with the remaining group, supervising them as they fish, hike or swim. Only this year my brother was delayed in joining us. I found myself being presented with the opportunity to join Dad and my girls in the boat for an evening of fishing. The only hitch was that Adi couldn’t be left back in the cabin unattended.
Even though this was Adi’s fifth fishing trip we’d never before attempted to take her in the boat. As a water dog, we were concerned that she might take one look at the water and leap over the side for a swim. I also wasn’t sure how willingly she would jump off the dock and into an unfamiliar vessel that was bobbing on the water. That said, Adi has gone everywhere I have led her- into elevators, past roaring waterfalls, across various types of foot bridges. So I posed the question to my Dad, “What do you think of taking Adi with us?”
“Let’s give it a try,” he responded.
Once the boat was launched and secured to the dock, my father and children climbed aboard. With Mom’s words “As long as you are there, she’ll be fine” at the forefront of my mind, I gave Adi the command to enter the boat. Without hesitation she hopped off the dock and down into the boat. I followed.
Calmly Adi stood by my legs as we moved out into the lake her head held high taking in the smells. Once we anchored, there were moments of restlessness as she tried to understand everything that was transpiring and find her place in the boat. Once that was settled, she curiously sniffed the fish my girls were catching then laid down for a snooze.
On our return trip to the dock, she hung her head over the side of the boat and lapped at the passing water. Never once did she try to jump in for a swim. Never once did she bark or cry in alarm or protest. Our Labrador was happy and content because she was with us. Adi would take several more boat rides that week.
While I watched Adi during her maiden voyage, I found the chorus of an old hymn playing through my mind.
“Wherever He leads, I’ll go
Wherever He leads, I’ll go
I’ll follow My Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads, I’ll go”B.B. McKinney*
Fishing affords ample opportunity to think. As I reflected on Adi and the words of that hymn, I found myself pondering this question. –
When Jesus leads me to a new place, an unfamiliar place, an uncomfortable place, how quick am I to surrender my preferences and personal ambitions, any fears and uncertainties and be like my Lab and follow because my greatest desire is to be wherever He goes?
My heart’s desire is to respond in the manner described by Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing God.
“Lord, I will do anything that Your kingdom requires of me. Wherever You want me to be, I’ll go. Whatever the circumstances I’m willing to follow. If You want to meet a need through my life, I am Your servant; and I will do whatever is required.”Henry Blackaby*
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” – Matthew 16:24, Amplified
© 2019-2023, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan. All Rights Reserved.
*Blackaby, Henry. Experiencing God. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994.
*McKinney, B.B. (1936). “Wherever He Leads” [Lyrics]. https://www.christianmusicandhymns.com/2019/09/wherever-he-leads-ill-go.html