A Lesson from our Labrador’s Father

The lesson I share with you this month was written for a friend who is a waterfowl hunter and the owner of our black Lab’s parents and littermate Maxine.  Adi’s father Max was a working retriever until his death five years ago.  The picture to the right of Max sitting in the duck blind inspired this lesson.  With my friend’s encouragement and permission, I share this lesson with you.  May this glimpse of a hunter’s morning in the duck blind with Max challenge, encourage, and inspire you. 

Lesson from a Lab: The Retrieve

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” -Psalm 90:17

Grab a cup of coffee and settle down on your favorite chair with Maxine. Close your eyes, relax, and think back to your time in the duck blind with Max.

The decoys are set.  Your blind has a fresh cover of camouflage.  The horizon is just beginning to take on the glow of dawn.  As day breaks, you hear the faint sounds of ducks on the move.  Your call gives an enticing invitation to come and settle on the water.  The birds fly into sight.  Max has his eyes trained on them.  His body begins to quiver with anticipation.  Shots ring out and two ducks drop into the water below.  With the command “back” Max charges out of the blind and plunges into the cold water.  His eyes focused on the spot the first bird dropped.  He immediately swims out, grabs it gently in his mouth, turns, and heads back to shore.  He drops the drake in your hand.  The words “Good boy, Max” are spoken followed by the command to retrieve the second bird.  He heads back to the water and plunges in again but is several yards off course.  The current has carried the bird further to the right.  You signal for his attention.  He looks back to you.  The motion of your arm helps him realign his course.  He spots the second bird and with a few more strong, swift strokes he snatches it out of the water.  He returns to drop the hen in your outstretched hand. 

With the birds secured and Max dried off sitting by your side happy and tired, it’s time to consider the question

Which retrieve are you making right now?

 Are you like Max on his first retrieve?  Your eyes sighted on the job at hand, moving forward on course and confident in the work the Lord has sent you out to do.  Are you ready to return to your Master with the job complete ready for your next set of instructions?

Or are you like Max on his second retrieve?  Have you lost sight of the bird?  Is the Holy Spirit signaling for your attention trying to realign your course?  Will you follow His direction so that you can finish His Kingdom assignment?

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ

Colossians 3:23

© 2019-2022, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved.

Photographs used with permission of the owner

36 thoughts on “A Lesson from our Labrador’s Father

  1. Beth, this is such an excellent post. Like so many other readers have stated, I love the picturesque analogy you paint and how cleverly you draw forth your point. It is both an encouraging and a challenging reminder to us. Thanks for this beautiful post.

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  2. I’m another who’s sometimes too quick to jump in and tackle whatever task is before me, without first consulting my Heavenly Father and submitting myself to HIS will. May I be like Max, eyes on the Master, ready to do his bidding! Thank you, Beth!

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    1. Thank you for your comment Nancy! There’s a wonderful song that goes “He’s still working on me to make me what I need to be.” I know I’m still in training and hope one day to be as quick to respond to the master’s ques as Max. How grateful I am that our Lord and Master is abounding in patience.

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  3. What a powerful lesson with rich truth, Beth. So often I get swayed off the course by all the strong currents around me. I take my eyes off the prize – off the purpose and the direction to which God has called me. I know that I do this with caring for Aaron as I become tired and discouraged. But looking back to my Master, like Max did, is always what I must consciously do. And God always redirects me to where I need to be in my heart and purpose. I really love this analogy! Thank you, Beth.

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  4. Thank you for posting this, Beth! What a wonderful, picturesque lesson! And thank you for celebrating Max. A very worthy hunter and servant to his master! “Well done, good and faithful servant,” Max. Makes me think how I hope I’ve learned better not to run ahead of the Lord but to be more prone to follow the movement of His eyes. In so doing, when I make a mistake, I can trust Him to re-direct my course without using the bit and the bridle.

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    1. Thank you GW for this beautiful comment! Max was a beloved companion to his owner and is deeply. His legacy both as a wonderful family dog and a working retriever lives on in his puppies. Much as our legacy of the love of Christ and our work done in Him lives beyond our days.

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  5. Such a wonderful post to help illuminate our walk with God. We are often so eager to just ‘jump in’ and do things our own way. Prayer and an open heart lead us to epiphanies we cannot learn any other way. Often, I try to reflect on the verse, “Be still and know that I am God’. (Psalm 46:10) These words are such a comfort. I understand then, that, “His ways are above my ways, and His thoughts above my thoughts.” I trust that He knows the steps I must make, the daily walk with Him that He has designed.

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    1. Linda, your comment comes as a beautiful gift, rich in His truth. Today, I needed to hear- “Prayer and an open heart lead us to epiphanies we cannot learn any other way.” Thank you!

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  6. Max saw where both ducks hit the water but the pesky current carried the second one away! I can relate. I often know how God is leading, but get mixed up halfway through the “retrieve.” I’m at one of these half way points with the Lord right now, Beth. Thanks for the reminder to keep looking to Him for direction. Doggy hugs to Adi and Summer. 🐾🐾

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    1. Thank you David! I know exactly what you mean. I’m at one of those half-way points right now myself and am prayerfully pursuing the redirect. I’ll pass on the hug to Adi when she wakes up. Right now she’s snoring away. It’s hard work keeping up with an energetic puppy.

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  7. Excellent story of Max at work, it was so vivid I felt I was there in the hide watching him in the water. The analogy is accurate for me at least, in that I rush to obey but I must admit sometimes I miss the target straight away. Like Max in the water we must always be alert and listening for our Father God’s direction. Thank you for this beautiful reminder today sister.

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    1. Thank you Alan! As a writer you know there is a fine line between too much and too little detail. I appreciate hearing that my words painted a clear picture. I admire the keen sense of hearing God gave dogs and pray my ears are as sharp in hearing the promptings of the Holy Spirit as Max’s when on mission to retrieve.

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      1. Yes! Listening is a good theme Beth, I see how that could give many doggy devotionals. Having said that, from what I read in your devotionals it is clear you are listening to Him. God bless you and your family today.

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    1. Thank you Gary! A dog’s devotion to their master keeps them in tune to their master’s signals. My ability to hear and heed the Lord’s signals is a tell tale sign as to where my devotion lies- in myself or in Him.

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  8. R Buckwalter

    Beautiful picture of the Sunset and of Max. So grateful that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning and that He forgives me when I go off course … So glad for the Holy Spirit and his nudging and guidance to bring me back on course again. Oh to have hearing ears and seeing eyes to follow Him more obediently… His patience and Love are amazing

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    1. Thank you Rosalie! We truly have a good, good Father. Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit on Proverbs 16:9-“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” How grateful I am that He willingly takes the necessary measures to get our attention, opening our ears and eyes, to get us back on course.

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  9. Wonderful Lesson – beautiful pictures of the dawn and of Max! So thankful for the Lord’s forgiveness when I fail to be in the correct place He wants me to be and I go off course … grateful for The Holy Spirit’s nudging and guidance to help me get back on course.

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    1. Thank you Pastor Pete! I find such comfort and encouragement in the Lord’s description of Himself in Exodus 34:6- “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” as it tells me He will patiently work with me and my humanness to keep me on His mission.

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  10. Bucky

    As an avid duck hunter I have observed this situation many times with my own waterfowl dog. I note that your analogy in this lesson is incredibly on point. Lord help me focus on my assignment and not lose sight of the mission of leading others to Christ. Thanks for a great message this morning and thoughts of a wonderful hunting dog, Max!

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    1. I would never have been able to paint a picture of a morning in a duck blind if it weren’t for all your vivid descriptions of Nova working.. She certainly is following in her father’s footsteps. It is such a blessing watching you on point as you focus on the Lord’s mission for you in this new season of your life.

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  11. Awesome analogy.

    Yes, how easy it is to try and repeat what we did last time, which worked – rather than going back to the Master for fresh instructions.

    That does take some humility though for us humans!

    Andy B

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    1. So very true Andy! Your comment brought to mind Isaiah 43:19- “See I’m doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” It’s so easy to stick with what works rather than look at our Lord and Master for fresh direction.

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      1. i love that verse from Isaiah!!

        yes, i think we sometimes prefer the ‘tried and tested’ route…for a myriad of reasons

        but, God rarely seems to do the same thing twice which is something we’d do well to remember

        Andy B

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