Contemplations of an Amateur Canoeist

My youngest daughter and I recently embarked on a new Hawaiian adventure–outrigger canoeing! I say adventure, but our route is fairly tame; we paddle the length of the canal through the city, pause for a breather in the marina, and then circle out around a buoy in the ocean before retracing our path. It’s that brief stint into the ocean that creates the excitement for me; the contrast between the calm water of the canal and the swelling waves and wind offshore tightens my stomach with a twinge of fear. Fear’s adrenaline pours itself into determination to match the new pace and intensity of the stroker, who from the first seat leads the crew to achieve the steersman’s desired course through the hazards of ocean canoeing. It is critical, we have learned, that along with maintaining synchronized and effective strokes, we stay centered in the boat and focus on listening to the steersman’s instructions.

This week, as we rowed with all our might through the swells and against the wind, my mind flashed to the account of Jesus’ disciples “straining at the oars, for the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he (Jesus) went out to them, walking on the lake (Mark 6:48).” When the disciples realized it was Jesus, Matthew tells us, Peter jumped up and volunteered to join Him out on the water. How in the world did Peter ever make himself step out of that boat? He walked so much further than I would have before he became frightened of the wind and waves and started sinking! Gently chastising Peter for his lack of faith, Jesus grasped his hand and took him back to the boat, and immediately the wind died down. The wind and the waves didn’t faze Jesus at all, for He was in control of them! How glad I am that He who has power over the wind and the waves is in complete control of the challenges of my life, as well. When I’m feeling slightly panicked and working hard to navigate through some difficulty, or when I’m nervous about stepping out of my comfort zone in response to God’s call, it is vitally important for me to stay centered in my faith in Christ and focused on listening to Him whom “even the wind and the waves obey (Mark 4:41).”

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