Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
There is, in almost any neighborhood, one house that all of the kids gather at to hang out and play. But way out in the country where I live, the paradigm changes a bit. Out here, there is usually a house where all of the neighborhood dogs hang out. And in our case, our house is that house.
Technically speaking, we have two dogs, which have often been mentioned in these columns. There is Echo, the lovable yet less than brilliant white lab, and Riley, the now grumpy old mutt who has been confined to the huge backyard. But there are almost always two other dogs here as well, Nali, the gorgeous Siberian husky, and Sky, the dog with one-inch-long legs who looks sort of like a chunky white rat with no tail. Echo and Nali and Sky have formed a bond and bounce back and forth between our house and our wonderful neighbor’s house all day and night. Call any one of them, and all three usually come running.
With our house being on the river, it was inevitable that we would end up buying kayaks and making very good use of them. And this past Sunday, I and one of my daughters and a member of our church youth group took off down river after lunch, heading toward the public greenway just a few miles downstream.
There is a lot of wildlife in and around the river. For the life of me, I can never understand how people can be so near to rivers and waterfalls and oceans and never take time to go out and see God’s beautiful creation and his beautiful creatures that live there. I took a pretty amazing video from my kayak of a blue heron on the bank of the river catching himself some lunch. He looked at us sort of askance as we passed by as if wondering why the strange bipeds in red floaty-things were invading his domicile.
But the oddest of the wildlife near and in the river that day were the two dogs that hang out with mine.
Seeing us heading downstream, both of them decided to follow us on the bank. And, in spots where that was not possible for the bigger of the two (the smaller one could squeeze through mortar joints in a brick wall, I think), he simply waded out into the river and continued to follow. Sky finally bailed out and headed back toward home, but Nali would not be deterred.
Toward the very end of the trip is a set of pretty decent rapids. Nali waded out into them, trying to get to us. That worried me. I turned the kayak around and started furiously paddling to try and get back to him, but before I could fight my way back there, he realized he could not go where he wanted to go and struggled his way back to the bank.
The kids and I went on to the pickup point another quarter of a mile or so downstream. My wife was waiting there with the truck – and with the dog.
We loaded the kayaks into the back of the truck, the kids into the back seat, and the wet, smelly, bewildered dog into their laps. Ten minutes later, both the bipeds and the quadruped were back home. By the time we got home from church later in the evening, Sky was home as well. Little legs, long walk. But the trio was back together.
Three unfenced dogs. One stayed home; one rode home; one walked home.
There are a lot of ways one could take that. We could praise the one with the sense to stay home and not get into trouble and use it as a parable to remind people not to wander. Or we could celebrate the one who chose to live life to the fullest, even braving the rapids, and encourage people to live rather than just exist. Or we could point at the tiniest one of all and marvel that she knew how to backtrack and find her way home when she had strayed.
But that isn’t what is on my heart in all of this. What is on my heart is that God has been very good to provide the saved with a wonderful place we can call home, a place where we will forever belong. John 14:1-3 says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
This was Jesus talking about heaven, home for the saved. We may come from different backgrounds, be different colors, and have different abilities, but the blood of Christ applied to our account equally removes all debt and guilt of sin and equally fits us for heaven. Just as our little spot on the river is equally home to the goofy white lab, the stunning husky, and the yappy whatchamacallit, heaven is equally the home of all the redeemed.
Don’t miss it for anything.
By the way, for you folks in and around Chattanooga, I will be preaching a revival meeting just down the road from you August 30-September 2, seven o clock each night, at the Berean Baptist Church on Brow Road in Trenton, Georgia, and I would love to see you there.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and audio downloads are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner