Tinsley: Dogs to the rescue
When COVID first hit us in February, we thought perhaps it would be short-lived. As it raged through Europe and set its sights on the U.S., we accepted the "stay-at-home" initiatives, hunkered in our houses, gave up shopping and eating out. When the NBA canceled its season, we knew it was serious. We hoped, though, that by summer it would be over.
Perhaps it was the sacrifices we made in the spring, perhaps it was luck, but COVID seemed to relax its grip and we ventured out. Sports found a way, with the NBA bubble, golf tournaments without spectators and stadiums mostly empty. Major League Baseball concluded an abbreviated season and delivered a nail-biting World Series. In some respects, we have learned to live with COVID.
But, with our guard down, the number of infections has sky-rocketed and we could face more stringent measures going into winter and the holidays. At least, for many of us, we have our dogs to get us through.
Dogs are an important part of our neighborhood. Our young neighbors across the street moved in a year ago with their pet bulldog, Rooney. They adopted him as a puppy, pure white. He is now full-grown and built like a bowling ball. Rooney never meets a stranger. Everybody loves Rooney. The newlywed couple next door to them just adopted Scout. I am not sure of Scout's breed. She is 5 months old and already a big dog, sweet, compliant and happy to have a home. They treat her like their child.
We have a 12-year-old Pembroke corgi named Buddy. If you have read this column in the past, you are familiar with Buddy. When he was younger Buddy went fishing with me in my flat-bottom boat. The front of the boat was his. He stood in the front and sniffed the wind to locate the fish. He was good at it. At least he thought so. Corgis think they are good at anything.
Once he leaned too far and sniffed too hard and fell in the lake. Corgis aren't built for water. Their stubby legs don't give much traction for swimming. He coughed, sputtered, went under and splashed for all he was worth until I grabbed him and hauled him back into the boat, soaked and shivering.
It reminded me of Peter's experience when he stepped out of the fishing boat to meet Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. I expect Peter was a better swimmer than Buddy, but there he was splashing and floundering around in the sea, helpless. Until Jesus reached out, lifted him up and hauled him back into the boat.
God has done that for me many times. Across the years I have fallen out of the boat financially, unable to sleep at night, worried about how to make ends meet. I have sunk over my head in work, overwhelmed by responsibilities and challenges. I have found myself drowning in grief with the loss of someone I love. And now COVID, and an uncertain future, seems to be overwhelming us all.
Every time I have fallen into waters over my head, God has pulled me up and hauled me back into the boat. He is strong enough to save you and He will not let you drown when circumstances threaten to overwhelm you.
Jesus said, "In the world you have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org