Wading In by Randy Rowley 10/9/15 ©


One of the greatest dangers in pursuing ducks is walking around in the water at night, wearing only a headlamp to help you spot hazards.  Besides many stumps, branches, rocks, trash, and other things to trip on, the bottom of a lake, river, or pond is often uneven and sometimes has holes and drop-offs.  This can be quite hazardous when wearing waders, which are necessary to keep one dry and warm.  (The only time they are not needed is during early teal season in September.)  If a hunter steps into a large hole, he can suddenly be underwater with his waders quickly filling up.  Waders that are even partially full of water make wading difficult and swimming or treading water a real challenge.

Such an event occurred in mid-November on Owl Creek off of Lake Belton.  My family and I launched at Owl Creek Park and headed up the creek.  I had only been on those waters once before, and that was in daylight.  Now it was pitch black, and things looked very different.  We spotted most of the stumps with my spotlight but staying in the winding creek channel was another matter.  As the waters narrowed, my prop started to vibrate from hitting bottom.  Then we ran aground.

I quickly determined that we had strayed to the south of the channel. My son-in-law, Justin Painter, and I hopped out and pulled my boat back the way that we had come and then turned it to starboard (the right) and started to walk it towards the channel. I knew that we were going the right way as the water was steadily getting deeper.

I had Justin get back in my boat while I continued to maneuver it towards the channel.  Suddenly I quickly went from waist-deep water to no longer being able to touch the bottom.  I would have been in real trouble, but I held onto my boat’s side, which kept my head above water.  Still, quite a lot of cold water went over the top of my waders and worked its way down both pant legs.

Justin used a paddle to get us back to where my feet could again touch the bottom. I then pulled my boat back to waist-deep water and, with considerable effort, pulled myself over the side and back on board.

To make matters worse, we didn’t have a duck come within range that morning.  Later, after we trailered my boat and I was on terra firma, I slipped off my waders.  Probably around a gallon of water per pant leg spilled out onto the asphalt.  The water had made me around 16 lbs. heavier – not a lot on dry land, but it would have been very tough swimming if I hadn’t been able to hold on to my boat’s side.

Duck hunters having to wade usually isn’t an option.  It’s possible to set out your decoys and hunt from your boat, but if you don’t have a retriever (and I don’t), then someone will have to wade into the water to retrieve downed ducks, as trying to maneuver one’s boat through the decoys is next to impossible.  Also, it’s not practical as it either doubles as your blind or is 100 yards away with a camo tarp on top of it to hide it from wary eyes.  Waiting until the hunt is over to retrieve dead ducks with your boat isn’t a good option as they usually float away and eventually become out of sight, making them very difficult to find.  For most of us duck hunters, to succeed, we have to get in the water.

The book of Joshua tells the story of the Lord naming Joshua as leader of the children of Israel after Moses’ death.  The Israelites had finally reached the Jordan River’s bank after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.  They were ready to take the land.  They had seen an entire generation of their disbelieving fathers and mothers die because of their lack of faith (they refused to enter the land the Lord had promised when they first arrived, fearing the land’s inhabitants).  They were determined not to repeat their parents’ mistakes.  But the Jordan wasn’t a gentle stream – it was a foreboding river flowing at flood level.  It would be a real challenge to cross it.

Joshua took charge.  He wrote (to the Israelites), “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.  This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.  See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.  Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.  And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” (Joshua 3:9-13.)

With all the Israelites watching, the priests carried the ark, which contained the broken 10 Commandments tablets, to the water’s edge and waded in. It was their greatest step of faith. Joshua wrote, “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:15-17.)

Notice that the Jordan didn’t pile up as the priests approached it.  Nothing happened to the river until the priests left the safety of the bank and waded in.  God waited for their demonstrated obedience and commitment before fulfilling his promise.  By keeping his promise, the Lord enabled the Israelites to have confidence in their new leader.  By requiring the Israelites to take an initial action (taking a step into the river, in this case), he taught them an important lesson on trusting him and the blessings that obedience can bring.

The Lord often chooses to teach us about faith and trust by leading us to unchartered waters – into trials that we didn’t understand why we are going through them at the time.  He does that because if we could see where we’re going and understand his plan, we would not need faith.  We would know everything.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”  We must live by faith, which gives us unshakable assurance.  With it we can wade into dark waters and “know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT.)  When we refuse to wade into the waters that God has set before us, we often miss experiencing the mercy and grace of God.  Our disobedience hinders God from blessing us.

Many of us are hesitant about surrendering all of ourselves to God.  We hesitate because we’re scared of what we can’t see or understand, so we stay put and don’t wade in.  We want to have victory, peace, joy, and abundant life, but fear of what we might lose by surrendering all of ourselves paralyzes us.  We aren’t able to see what we would gain by totally surrendering to him.

God is ready to pile up the floodwaters and lead us into a bountiful new land filled with his blessings.  To experience this, we must trust him in every area of our lives.  Just as we must wade in dark waters to have a chance of being successful duck hunters, to be successful in life, we must take hold of his hand and boldly wade in.



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