Do you get the doldrums or feel just wrung out or overwrought sometimes? I know I do. I am not feeling that way today, but there ARE times.
When I hit those times, well…what is it like? I will tell you an analogy. Come on, you knew I would, right? I think I have told this story before. But it is so fitting today, for some reason.
There was a day that my husband, son, and I went canoeing. There had been a bit of a drought for a couple of months, so the river was quite low. It wasn’t a huge river to begin with. As we made our way down the river, there were visible stumps and rocks in many places. It looked kind of like this photo, although this is not from that day or place.
Here is the hilarious part. Neither my husband nor my son had ever even been in a canoe. I, however, had canoed when I was in junior high. I did that at a week long camp. Now I was no expert, I canoed once a day for 5 days for maybe an hour each time. I was quite petite at that point, so I was always in the front of the canoe. It turned out that that is a really critical piece of information! The person in the back steers. Who knew? I surely didn’t.
I got in the front, our then 5 year old son got in the middle, and my husband in the back. Off we went. We each had a paddle. I also did not know there was a long one and a short one, and that the dude in the back is supposed to have the long one to aid in steering. We just paddled. And since we did not know WHAT we were doing, we veered from bank to bank…we hit every stump and rock. We banged our heads on low hanging branches……and we capsized. My guys freaked out at that. We all stood up—the water was only up to our thighs.
I got everyone back in the canoe (including me). We paddled on. We accidentally ended up with the right paddles at that point. We watched other canoers and tried our best to emulate them. Soon we were coming to a fork in the river. The river was getting deeper—and the water faster. We needed to take the left fork, but it wasn’t working. I had to make a decision. I hopped in the water, knowing that even if the water was over my head, I could swim along side the canoe and force it to the left by pulling it. My guys were scared, but when I stood up in the water (now shoulder deep) and told them all was fine, they calmed down.
I walked our canoe to the destination, where the expedition leader was collecting the canoes. It was quite an adventure. Now through it all, I do remember being quite stunned to discover that I actually had NO IDEA how to canoe. I grew up in Mississippi River towns, and we always boated. Each of us kids had a job on our little motor boat—so I wasn’t ever scared, even when we capsized. I WAS grateful we didn’t have our camera so that it didn’t get ruined.
I guess when I canoed at camp, I was just ballast. I paddled merrily along, and we always went in a straight line. I had no idea that it was truly ALL due to the one who was steering and protecting me.
There is the kernel, the realization. When we feel burdened, or overwhelmed, we are in the front of the canoe and paddling away. But of course we are NEVER alone. God is always there for us.
His paddle exceeds ours. YES we must do our part. We cannot quit. But do you know what? Even when we capsize, the uproarious laughter can be there. Sometimes a good rinse is required, especially on a hot day.
Sometimes when you get that instinct to at least do SOMETHING and see if it helps, it works. Just like when I jumped in to yank us to our destination, a snap decision can work. You see, at that point we were facing a crisis and a decision. If we missed the turn, we’d have to somehow turn the canoe around and paddle it upstream (against the now rapid current). I KNEW that was no doubt beyond our capabilities. I knew that I could at least get us to the destination by using what teeny bit of brute force I have. I mean it was an aluminum canoe—meaning it was virtually weightless on the water.
When we are in moments like that in our life, we know that sometimes actions will work out. We were all wearing life jackets, the boat was intact, and we could all swim. We were safe. The rest was just silly details.
Through it all that day, and every day, God is my co-pilot, lifeguard, advisor, coach, supporter, and cheerleader. He sends inspiration, He sends people, sunshine, rain, warmth, cold, He sends it all.
After our adventure on the river, I laughingly told the expedition manager ~ we should have taken the canoeing instruction/lesson you offered. You see, I had NO idea that I couldn’t canoe. All those years ago, it turns out I was ballast. He shrugged and said something like ~ “well honey, you all made it”! I laughed and said, we surely did.
God is SO good. If you are feeling stressed or frustrated or overwhelmed or even down….know this beyond a shadow of a doubt. God is there. You are not alone. Sometimes you may capsize. But the shore is in sight, just beyond the fog. Hang on. Be at peace today and always. I hope you have a very blessed day, evening, and week.