Monday, October 10, 2011

4 Words to Never Say While Canoeing

If you ever find yourself canoeing down a river…or worse yet, heading back upstream to the boat launch after having been on the river for a while so you can go home…I would like to caution you against saying four little words. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those words, in fact, they really are good words to say. Just not when you’re in a canoe. Heading upstream…

My husband wanted to check out a potential area for duck hunting, so we packed up his newly-camo’ed canoe and headed to a fish and wildlife area about four hours away. It was a beautiful day…I saw gorgeous fall foliage on the way and was able to read a really good book I’ve been enjoying recently. 

A very nice guy helped get the canoe off the van at the boat launch and we set off down river. The scenery was beautiful, we saw all kinds of interesting things…blue herons, a boot, a crazy little house that looked like some place the team from Criminal Minds might end up at to investigate some gory crime (Dueling Banjos danced  briefly through my mind as we floated on by), several eagles – even a male Bald Eagle. It was lovely and relaxing. And I  enjoyed just spending the day with my husband.

We turned around to head back, which meant we were heading upstream. Against some pretty strong currents at times. We were very thankful for the trolling motor hubby had brought along. All was going well as we headed back to the boat launch.

And then…I had to go and silently whisper Four Little Words.

Like I said above, there’s nothing wrong with those four words. But, as I keep forgetting…they are just entirely too vague. They leave so much open to wild interpretation. I really should know better by now.

What did I say?

speak to me god
Here I am, so naively inviting God to speak...

In a moment of Creation-inspired awe and wonderment, I invited the God of the Universe…YHWH…Adonai…to speak to me. I wanted to hear what was on His heart. I wanted a glimpse of the multitude of thoughts He has toward me. Which are all good, according to my favorite verse:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace (wholeness, well being, health, blessing) and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Isn't this serene and beautiful?
Can you see why I was all caught up in Creation-inspired wonderment?

So there I was: heading upstream with my beloved, in awe of the beauty around me, filled with joy at being a Daughter of the King. Feeling fortunate to be part of God’s glorious and magnificent creation. And then…


He did not speak by tipping the canoe, for that I am very thankful. But, He spoke with an Object Lesson.

ob·ject lesson, noun \ˈäb-jikt-, -(ˌ)jekt-\ : something that serves as a practical example of a principle or abstract idea

Mere moments after offering up that silent supplication and posting via cell phone praise for the inventor of the trolling motor and the fine folks at Minn-Kota, the trolling motor got caught on a log. The new prop, fortunately, was spared any damage but the switch that controlled the speed of the motor was stuck on one speed, which was not Fast. 

I thought I was prepared for our trip, I even had a little first aid kit packed and snagged some toilet paper from a Walmart restroom…just in case. But, we did not have any tools with us. What we needed was a long philips screwdriver. My husband tried every MacGyver trick we could possibly come up with. If only we had some gum, a paper clip and a comb…

We were then faced with paddling back, for the most part. Fortunately, the trolling motor was at least not stuck in reverse. But the current was so strong in some areas it didn’t help at all. And the river would randomly go from deep to so shallow our paddles were hitting bottom with each stroke – no way could you have the motor down in the water in those places. And we were several miles down river…this was not exactly what I meant when I said “Speak to me, God.”

But God was speaking, and what I was hearing was that whenever we decide to go our own way and do things in our own strength, it is just like trying to paddle upstream. You paddle, paddle, paddle and don’t hardly get anywhere. You wear yourself out and get frustrated. Things go wrong. You find that you are completely unprepared and completely alone. It takes longer to get where you were going, and often times it is right back where you started…because you went off on the wrong way to begin with.

I know I have been through this object lesson before. Several times. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to go through it again…only, we are currently trying to discern God’s will for our family. My husband is looking for a job, we are willing to go where God says to go – we just need to hear where…and when. I feel like now is the time to go, and we are pretty sure about where. But, I guess it’s always good to be reminded NOT to try to force things before their time and not try to do them in our own strength.

Our canoe trip adventure sure didn’t go the way we expected. Why that might have been a surprise is beyond me. But, we stayed dry and unharmed, learned that we work well together in adversity, and were reminded again how important it is to "go with the flow" when it comes to God's plans for our lives. And, in spite  of it all, we had a really good time. Just ask my husband about the frog…

michigan j frog

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don’t Miss That Train

trainThe older I get, the more I realize how important it is to make good decisions. The kind that don’t leave the bitter aftertaste of regret behind. The kind that bring enrichment to the lives of those around us, not just to ourselves. Even with that realization, though, it can still be hard to step out and do something new when the destination is unclear. But that is where faith is important...

I read something this morning that fits our situation these days very well. It’s in Time to Rejoice: Devotions Celebrating God’s Love by several Women of Faith authors. This particular selection was written by Lisa Whelchel and was called Catch That Train.

She talked about a time when her mom called her up and asked her to go on a bike riding trip in Vermont. Neither of them were “cyclists” and she hadn’t been on a bike in years. They really had no idea what to expect and were surprised on more than one occasion. The rest of the group were obviously experienced in such things…from their gear to their abilities.

Still, they didn’t give up. They made the best of it and enjoyed the trip.

What really spoke to me was the following passage at the end of the story:
I hate to think what I might have missed had we not impulsively decided to do something we’d never done before. Or if we’d been daunted by the fact  that we didn’t have all the right training or equipment. Or if we’d given up when we learned that the journey would be longer and harder than we anticipated.
This wasn’t the first journey in my life when I truly didn’t think I could make it to the end. And I’ve certainly grumbled before like the children of Israel. But I learned that God was the one who set me on the path; He promised to go with me, and He would bring me to the destiny he planned for me from the beginning. I want to have the same attitude about these harder life journeys as my Nanny had about her life: to hop on that train. I’m sure God has something good planned!"
Her beloved Nanny  always told her “Catch that train while you can because you never know if it will pass this way again.” So it is with opportunities in life. We have to trust that the Conductor knows where He is taking the train and that we will arrive at our destination.

I have to remember right now that God is in this and He knows what He is doing. It doesn’t matter if I have the right experience or equipment right at this moment – God always equips and empowers those He calls. We will have what we need when we need it, we only need to trust Him. And listen when He speaks. He will never let us down and always has good in mind for us. Don’t miss out on the best adventures God has for you by being afraid to hop on that train!

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