Why does it seem like the hardest events in our lives lead to the best learned lessons? We really learned our love and responsibility for our sweet Bay on a stormy night when he went on his adventure! We got Bay Heaven when he was just a puppy. Our sons wanted to name him Beethoven and our daughter wanted to name him Bay Herman so we compromised on BayHeaven because he was pure white but we called him Bay for short. He was half lab and half golden retriever and he was the runt of the litter. Why is the runt always the cutest? We lived in the city with huge trees all around so he never saw the natural beauty and broadness of sunsets and sunrises or the bruteness of the storms that form in the sky and heaven, his namesake.
When Bay was about nine, we moved to the country close to a busy highway. This was all so new to him. He loved running in the big backyard. He loved chasing the goats in the pasture and was fierce working them for Livestock shows. And he loved sitting under our one tree in the backyard where he could watch all of us coming and going. He also loved the newness of the sky but he didn’t like the storms. Actually, he was so afraid of them he would run around in a frenzy and he would keep on running no matter what was in his path. We soon discovered we had a problem because even the fence wouldn’t stop him.
We tried everything to contain Bay in the chain link fence surrounding our backyard. We first tried an electric fence. That didn’t work. We next tried boards in the weaker areas of the fence. That didn’t work. We finally tried barbed wire around the bottom of the chain link and keeping Bay on a leash on the back porch during storms. He was getting so beat up running through our obstacles that we had put in the chain link fence and nothing seemed to work except staying with him and consoling him during these storms.
One Friday night we were at a home football game when an electrical storm came through. We stayed sitting at the game waiting out the delay and weren’t thinking about Bay. People were coming and going during the delay of the game but we sat still. The game resumed when the lightening stopped and we watched it to the end. When we got home Bay was not there! We went searching and searching and finally found him about four miles down the highway. He was wet, scratched from the barbed wire, scared, and just as excited to see us as we were to see him! He was covered in mud so much that you could not tell he was actually white but his tail was wagging and he appeared to have a smile on his face when he saw us!
The next week I was doing my normal errands in town. It was a small town so everyone knew each other, where they lived, what they did, their children, and even their pets. As I stopped for gas at the local station about one and a half miles away from our home the attendant said, “I think I saw your dog last Friday night.” “What? Well he did get out,” I replied. Then I went on to the grocery store and our local police officer was there and said, “I think I saw your dog last Friday night about three miles down the highway. I tried to get him in the patrol car but all he would do was run. Then I lost him.” “What? Well he did get out that night,” I replied again. What a night our Bay must’ve had during that lightning storm! I wondered where all he went and what all he did and who all he saw during his evening out from fear? Would we ever know?
The next Friday brought another home football game to our stadium which was about two miles from our house in a different direction from where we had found Bay. It was a beautiful evening with a beautiful sunset over the stadium and people were gathering and visiting before kickoff. One friend, two friends, and even more and more friends kept coming to me and telling me that they had gone in and out of the stadium for different reasons that stormy night but they all had one event the same. They all saw BayHeaven outside the gate! They said he was wet and dirty but seemed to be having a great time from all the attention he was getting and was so busy greeting everyone. I wondered why none of them came and told us Bay was at the gate but I wondered even more how long Bay stayed there and who all he got a pat or encouraging word from? I also wondered what all HE wondered that stormy Friday night.
Our Bay started off running from fear that night, then as he began to tire he saw the stadium lights and probably thought that must be the way to get help and then later took off running again. He had gone so many miles past the gas station, following the stadium lights to the game, and later down the busy highway running from the lightning and looking for us. After that we watched him more closely and carefully especially during storms and we often sat at the football games wondering about his adventures that night. And the whole town also seemed to be on a look out for the pure white dog named BayHeaven.
Bay’s running around cold, wet, scared, wanting to be rescued by his “Master,” the one he served, is so much like us in our daily lives. We want that rescue, that reassuring pat on the head telling us we’re OK and everything will work out. We want to come in from the storm to the calm. We want to be picked up, cleaned up, dried off, and given comfort and love. Our Master, our God, is waiting with his arms open like so many were that night for Bay. And like Bay, we have to be ready and willing to go inside and stop the running and accept the warm and dry embrace. The strength behind the embrace that we offered to Bay that night does not compare to the embrace offered to us. And the lights Bay saw and ran to that night were as bright to him as the light we have in front of us that we can follow, a light that gives us an ever seeing direction in the scary darkness of our lives.