Devotional – Upstream

“MOSES! COME! Please…come…” I whimpered, exhausted and near tears as I jumped through thickets and over large rocks on the edge of the river. What if he drowns? Why does he keep swimming upstream? I can tell he’s getting tired!

What started out as a little walk to the river had turned into rescue episode without the guaranteed happy ending. I had known that my brother’s chocolate lab loved water, but I hadn’t realize it made him forget all common sense. Soon after I weakened and let him off the leash, it became clear that Moses forgot all about me—and his bum leg. At first he danced in the shallows, then dipped in and out of the deeper waters, and finally plowed into the current. Unfortunately, the current was a little stronger than his dog-paddle, and soon he drifted farther than my voice would carry. Thus began my riverbank chase.

I’m not exactly sure when annoyance turned to fear, but I think it was when it looked like he actually did want to come my direction when I called, but couldn’t make it past the current to get to me. All I wanted was for him to swim across to my side of the river and just wait for me to get to him. But somehow he didn’t get that plan. He made it to one side of the river or the other, but would spend most of his time swimming hard against the current toward me. I knew he was getting tired, but he was stubborn and set on his own course. I felt like any moment his legs or his heart would give out and I dreaded that conversation with my brother and sister-in-law. Vacation ruined.

Finally, about a quarter-mile down river, soon after I called my brother for reinforcements, I caught up with Moses. I knew he could see and hear me well, so my worry turned to anger, when I watched him start back toward the current again, chasing more bubbles and sticks, despite his exhaustion. Why would he go back out when I could tell he was so tired? Was he confused and disoriented? Stubborn? ADD? Somehow I made enough of a racket to disrupt his obsession, and he dog-paddled close enough so I could reach in and pull all four shaky legs out of the water.

That dog is crazy. And yet…I see a picture of myself. God opens a door of ministry, and I plunge in and forget all about Him. There are plenty of splashes and bubbles and sticks to motivate me and deafen my ears to His calls, and I don’t realize that I’m drifting from Him. I don’t realize my own limited strength until I find myself relentlessly paddling upstream, exhausted, in danger of drowning. Thankfully, Jesus never loses sight of me. He follows and calls and waits for me to turn to Him. When I do, I find hope and rest in His presence. And I realize I can only take on this opportunity He has given me—this “river” of ministry or calling, or whatever it may be—in His presence, direction, and strength. Because without Him, the very thing I delight in can become my undoing.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” – Matt. 11:28 (NLT)


*Once or twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers.  This was written by Andrea Keele, and sent on Sept. 7, 2015.

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