My father and I have always been avid duck hunters. I first started going with him on hunting trips when I was 10 as an observer, but wasn’t allowed to actually hunt until I was 12. For us, it has never been about how many ducks we shoot (If it was, we probably wouldn’t have stuck with it this long, because truth be told, we are both miserable hunters. We are successful only a small fraction of the time). Rather, it has always been about the nature experience and the enjoyment of God’s creation.

If you have ever been or know anything about duck hunting, then you are probably aware that the greatest tool the waterfowler possesses amidst his or her arsenal of equipment and gadgets, is the dog. It does one little good to shoot a duck or goose if he is unable to retrieve it afterward. This is where a good retriever comes in handy. There are many different breeds that hunters often choose. Among these are the more popular Golden Retriever and the various Labrador breeds. My family has always owned and trained labs. A couple of years ago, after the death of my childhood dog and hunting companion, Judge (a hard headed, strong willed, beast of a black lab), we began searching for a new dog. Any old dog would not do. This one had to be special! So when my family was referred to a certain breeder through a hunting companion of ours, we jumped on the opportunity to check it out. This is how we came to own Ruby, our feisty, field trial blooded, yellow Labrador.

Of all of the other dogs in the litter, Ruby seemed to show the most interest in human contact and the least in romping with her siblings. The breeder himself told us that Ruby was a special dog and that if he were to pick any puppy from the litter to be a field trial champion it would be her. So we quickly jumped on the opportunity and purchased her and took her home. As she matured and bonded with us, she began to show increasing interest in retrieving and an unshakeable attention to watching birds. It seemed she was beginning to understand her purpose; retrieving was in her blood and she knew it!

In the two years that have passed since her instincts first began to take form, things have certainly not changed. For instance, she has a certain tennis ball that she loves to fetch. As I sit in the recliner at my parents’ house she will bring the ball to me and I will throw it down the hall for her. The thing that never ceases to amaze me is that for a dog as energetic and hyper as she is, when it comes to retrieving, her attention span is infinite. My arm will tire of throwing the ball before she will tire of sprinting down the hallway to bring it back! She still has the same fervor and excitement after the hundredth time as she did the very first throw. She gets it; She understands her purpose in life and she can’t help but be what she was designed to be, a retriever.

In much the same way, God has a plan for each and every single one of us. We all have gifts that God has given us, both spiritual and physical. It’s who we are and who we are called to be!

Let us consult Paul’s spiritual guidance in this matter: “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Romans 12: 3-6).

In this passage, Paul is urging all who are in Christ to be careful not to boast in their spiritual gifts. As Christians, we need to be careful not to be puffed up with pride. We all have equally important functions in the one body of Christ. If we are to fulfill our commission of serving as Christ’s hands and feet, we must each strive to recognize our individual God given gifts and to use these to further His kingdom here on earth! If we, as many members of the one body of Christ, are constantly warring and battling against each other, then we have made this body dysfunctional. It is an imperative that we each come to recognize our place in this body and to cooperate with each other so that Christ is glorified in us and the Church can advance in fulfilling the great commission of spreading the gospel and making disciples of men. When we not only discover our place in this body, but also come to accept it and to fulfill our roles, we will find true joy and peace in knowing that we are exactly where God wants us. Then too, like my beloved pet and hunting companion, we will never tire of fulfilling the purpose God has predestined and set forth for us!

Zach Liston

Teacher Associate/ Athletic Trainer

Lee's Summit West High School