Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dog Theology, part 2: Learning to Swim

For many dogs swimming, as well as the desire to swim, just comes naturally. Not so with my dog: Dakota. However, there was a time, once, when I did successfully get her to swim.

While camping at Jordan Lake during a hot summer my wife and I took Dakota to the water. Getting her to splash and trot around with her feet in the water was easy. But to get her out any deeper than her belly took a bit of coaxing. Dogs seem to instinctively know how to swim, but ours only knows how to instinctively be a wuss.

Being a hound breed she is very food motivated. She'll do just about anything for a tasty morsel. And that's just what it took to get her to swim on her own. I put a treat in front of her curiously sniffing snout just out of reach and slowly lead her step by four-legged step into deeper water. With this tactic the two of us walked all six of our legs into deep water. There were a number of times when she abandoned the treat and turned around. But with enough motivation and encouragement from her dear o'le doggy dad she swam on her own.


Isn't that just how growth happens? Most of us have not gotten to where we are in life by jumping into the middle of our vocational pool. We gradually took steps toward the deep water and who we would become. We may have turned back due to fear, but this slow gradual process seems to be the way in which God chooses to grow us emotionally, spiritually, and even vocationally.

Whatever morsel is in front of you right now, giving you reason and inspiration to move deeper, let me encourage you to step back and take in the big picture of your life. Sometimes it might be helpful to turn back, look at the shore where you began and notice just how far you've already come, instead of focusing on how far you still have to go.

This has been my own experience through grad school. If at the beginning of seminary I had seen where I am at now, I would have thought there is no way I could grow so much or swim so far. But I must credit those who walked out there with me and encouraged me along my path.

Step by four-legged step as I come to the end of seminary I, too, am learning to swim.

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