Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Lark loves the water. At least we thought she did. At Rainbow River, Florida, Lake Martin, Alabama, Jenny’s Creek, Georgia, she dives in without fear. She chases floating leaves, retrieves sticks, and rides in the kayak. Whether jumping off the bank or wading in gradually, she has never shown a sign of hesitation even as a small puppy. So, when we were preparing for the Sunshine Classic, a week-long dog show with everything from Scentwork to Conformation, I signed Lark up for dock diving. Seven rounds of dock diving. Cory, too, because even though she already has her Junior Dock Diving title, I could not deny my girl a chance to do what she most loves: swim. While I knew Lark did not have the genes of a water dog, experience showed me that she could swim circles around my web footed Chessie. What I did not realize was how deep and far the pool looked from the top of the dock. It doesn’t bother Cory, she just wants to swim, but Lark had different ideas. The first day, no matter what we tried, teasing her with toys, putting Cory on the dock with her, creating a competition as to who could reach the floating toy first, Lark put on the brakes every time she came near the edge of the dock. She ran right beside Cory down the dock, but while Cory flew through the air, Lark teetered on the edge clinging with her toenails to the platform. The next day, I took her back and she hesitated again. The woman running the event suggested I get in the water and call to her. In the scorching sun, I raced down the ramp into the inviting water. I waved a toy and called to Lark. That was all it took as my once hesitant Doberman made a belly flop on top of me snatching the toy out of my hands. After that, she never looked back and it was all I could do to keep her out of the water! She turned into a diving fool, jumping eight feet and earning two qualifying dives towards her own Junior Dock Diving title. And when it was not her turn, she whined, leapt and carried on like I was keeping her from her favorite thing in the world. The difference? All it took was the knowledge that I was with her. There is a lot of meat in Psalm 23. Unfortunately, for many people, the scriptures are something they were taught to say by rote with little thinking. I know the chapter was just something I learned as a child to earn that prize in Sunday School. But, as I age and life brings my own set of rapids to navigate, the verses bring me much comfort. Particularly, the words, “I will not fear, for you are with me.” Whether you are diving into a deep pool or barely treading water, remember, God is with you today. And like Lark, jump.