Search and Rescue
“…Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress…” – Ps.107
For most of our walk, our 45lb. puppy, Trooper, had been calm, just chillin’ with his human “mom”—that is, until he spotted a rabbit. Suddenly, he yanked the leash out of my hand and went tearing off after the rabbit—followed by “mom”, (much older and slower), calling his name! No answer-- our normally loyal dog’s attention had been diverted by a delectable-looking enticement, and he had become oblivious to all else. Finally I caught up to him in a thicket at the bottom of the neighbor’s yard up the street.
Meanwhile, a slight drizzle had developed into a downpour. But nothing mattered to me except my fur-baby. So I scrambled into the brambles, briars, and bushy overgrowth of the thicket in search of Trooper, holding one end of the leash and hoping he was still attached to the other. Again, I called his name, and this time he responded immediately – “Over here! Over here!”—which to me sounded like “Rowf! Rowf!” What a relief for both of us! I followed the sound and found him. The rabbit had long since his gone his merry way, but our dear puppy couldn’t go anywhere. He’d been ensnared. The leash had gotten twined around some of the thicket branches.
Poor Trooper-- the harder he pulled and struggled to free himself, the tighter he got ensnared! By the time I reached him, he and the leash were entwined so tightly, I couldn’t detach him from the leash. So I tried pulling our sweet, big, heavy, puppy toward me to give him some slack to free him. But, not understanding my purpose or motive, he kept pulling back the other way and continuing to struggle on his own.
After a while, with everything including us getting wetter and muddier, I managed to get enough slack to detach the leash. Free at last! Only one problem. The leash was still entwined in the thicket. Which meant in order for me to get Trooper home safely, he would have to totally cooperate with me, allowing me to guide him home without a leash. He did, and we arrived—safe, wet, and happy to be home together!
This incident reminded me of our own relationship with the Lord. He longs to protect us from harm, but in His sovereignty, He has allowed us the freedom to choose. Sometimes our choices, like Trooper’s are driven by chasing things in this world that entice us, ensnare us, and bring us down. We think it’s going to provide more life, more freedom, but instead, it traps and enslaves us. Whether it’s the world, the “flesh” (our own desires), or the devil deceiving us, those “rabbits” don’t deliver the promised satisfaction and are nearly impossible to catch anyway. “There is a way that appears right, but in the end, it leads to death.” (Prov. 16:25)
Thankfully, unlike animals, we don’t have to follow our instincts. We don’t have to follow the world, our “flesh”, or the devil either. We are free to choose right and avoid the pain, frustration, and often-lasting harmful effects of “chasing after the wind” (Eccles. 6:9).
Yes, we’re human, not perfect, and sometimes we run away from our loving Father to strive after things that promise excitement, fulfillment, and abundance. And in our preoccupation, we don’t hear Him calling our names. That’s when He pursues us, finds us helplessly stuck, and rescues us. No condemnation. No “you’re not worth the bother and discomfort of redeeming you.” No “you got yourself into this mess, you can get yourself out.” No questions asked, he frees us and leads us home to rest, safety, and His loving companionship.
The only thing we have to do is cooperate. First, respond to the Lord, like Trooper did to me in the thicket. Then, don’t try so hard to free ourselves, struggling and pulling away-- “Cease striving and know that [He] is God.” (Ps. 46:10) Trust Him. Then, once free, don’t run away again, thinking we know better how to get where we need to go. Even my dog had more sense than that! Once I loosed him from bondage, he stuck with me and let me lead him home—the way we need to when our Rescuer comes.