Barking at Buoys

Last week, we had to go to the Lake District while two of our kids took exams at St. Bees School.  We suffered through the best weather of the year while hiking, boating, playing on the beach, etc.  It’s a tough life! 🙂

A few years ago we got a couple of rubber rafts, so we can go out rowing if we find a place to launch.  Thursday, we went out at the south end of Derwentwater.  The water was very shallow where we launched, and continued shallow out for some distance.  We could see the buoy floating out there, warning boats where the shallow water began, but it didn’t concern us — rubber rafts have no keel, they pretty much float right on top of the water.

We did something a little different this time.  We’ve learned that the dogs hate it when the family is divided between two rafts.  They always want to be with the group that they aren’t with at the time (perhaps dogs DO have a sin nature).  They might even jump in the water and swim to the other one, be pulled on board, and then drench us by shaking all the water off all over us.  Then, they quickly become unhappy about not being in the other boat, and may well make the jump / swim again.  Stupid dogs. 🙂

So this time, we tied the two rafts together, side by side.  It made for an unwieldy vessel, and you could only use two oars on each side of the monstrosity, rather than two oars on each side of each raft.  But it was kind of fun, the dogs liked it, and there were no unauthorised doggy-swimming expeditions and no unscheduled doggy-induced showers.

So off we go, into the deep (or shallow, as the case may be).  And as we head towards deeper water, we pass right next to the buoy.

Now, I knew it was just a buoy, just floating there so people other than us would be warned about the shallow water.  My wife knew it, my kids knew it, and you know it.  But dogs do not understand buoys — and one took exception to it.  He was NOT happy about that buoy being so close to our vessel.  This was a scary new creature that he had never experienced before!  He barked and growled and did his best to scare it away — but it just ignored him and came closer!  We smiled and laughed, but he was trembling, obviously stressed by that evil monster.

Fortunately, we managed to pass the buoy without it launching a vicious attack against us, and the dog soon settled down.  The danger receded into the distance; all was safe again.

But as we went on down the lake, it came to my mind:  how often are our fears, the things that distress us, no different from a buoy?  Sometimes, the things that we fear are no threat to us at all.  They may not even have anything to do with us — they may be there for the benefit of other people, but we get ourselves into a turmoil over them. 

We don’t see the cable anchoring that ‘danger’ to the bottom.  We’re as dumb as the dog, sometimes, about the things we fear.  We fear silly little things that have nothing to do with eternity, nothing to do with anything that really matters.  But we bark and growl and fret and complain, stirring ourselves into a frenzy over nothing much at all.

I think that sometimes God must see the things we fear and shake His head the way we were shaking our head at the dog.  ‘If they only understood what that is for,’ He might say.  ‘Not only would they not be afraid of it, they would be glad it is there.’ 

One day, we’ll look back and say of ourselves, ‘How foolish I was.’  As the song writer said:

And things of earth that cause the heart to tremble,
Remembered there will only bring a smile.

Every buoy in your life is on a cable, anchored in the will of God.  If He put it there, it has a purpose.  Maybe it is to teach you something, maybe it is to correct you or get your attention, maybe it is for the benefit of others, but it isn’t beyond His control, and it isn’t something to fear. 

Barking at buoys?  We would do better to ask God to teach us why they are there, and receive the lessons He sends.

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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