This past summer the fam went to one of our favorite places on earth, Kelowna British Columbia. We stayed on Lake Okanagan and spent every day basking in the sun, adventuring, and I personally soaked up every last minute I could with two teenagers. It was dreamy.
One afternoon Aidan, my almost-sixteen-year-old, decided to take out the air mattresses and float on the lake. We had to push past duck poop to get out toward the marina and eventually out to the swimming dock that floated between shore and the boat docks. But I will do anything to hang out with my kids, so duck poo and all, I hopped on and away we went.
Of course Aidan turned it into a competition and never have my arms felt so short. His competitive angst and love of workouts had his mattress moving through the water way faster than this ol’ lady’s. My mattress almost looked like I was doing a V up trying to catch up. I am sure it was a sight for sore eyes.
We got to the swim dock and had to figure out how to get off the float mattresses and onto the dock without falling into the water and getting soaked. Aidan managed. I did not. So we lay there and let the sun dry us off. It was glorious and I felt like I had my son all to myself, which is a rare occasion. We were bored, the kind of bored that leaves room for creativity and conversation and just being… the kind of just being that takes in whatever is happening around you as unexciting or as exciting as it might be.
It was in that moment that I noticed a young boy get on a paddle board and head out from shore. He was maybe six or seven years old. This kid seemed like he was having fun, until he was no longer having fun. His paddle board was pretty far from shore and he was headed straight into a dock and under the dock were all sorts of pipes and stuff so if he ran into it, he was not going to just be able to duck and make it. It was more complicated than that and would most likely require swimming under water. And based on his response to the circumstance, I’m not sure this kid could swim. He started to panic yelling “I’m gonnnnnna crash! I cannnnnn’t turnaround!”
The shore came into my line of sight and all the people who had been reading, swimming, prepping their boat, they all had their eyes on this situation. People started running down shore in the direction of this boy yelling in an attempt to help him. One man yelled “Padddddddle!”
See, the boy wasn’t paddling. He was standing on a board that was going in the direction he did not want to go and all he was doing was screaming about the destruction and wreckage about to ensue. He was going to crash, yet he was doing nothing to try and steer his course in another direction!
This man from the shore kept yelling “Paddle!”
As soon as the boy started paddling, he started to realize he had control over his direction.
His board began to turn slightly and he leaned into that slight turn and kept doing the same thing that caused the change of direction. Before you know it, this kid turned himself in an entirely new direction! And that’s when it felt like the entire shore became a part of something they were fighting for together, and we all started clapping and hollering “Good job! Yaaaaay! You did it!”
I have thought about that moment a thousand times since last summer. How often are we like that? How often do we see that we are headed in a direction we don’t want to go and instead of trying to do something about it, we stand there, doing nothing to attempt to change our course?
All this guy on the shore really encouraged the boy to do was “Move!” And I think Jesus is like that. I think Jesus is on the shore of our lives and He is yelling “Paddle!” and it’s not because He doesn’t have the ability to rescue us. Surely He has shown us He has that power. I think Jesus yells “paddle” because He wants us to know that He has emPOWERed us to be able to steer our lives in the direction we know we are to go.
Jesus is God who came in the flesh, colliding with our mess and wreckage, our hopes and dreams, and it seems like He was always encouraging people to move.
To those who wanted to go backward, Jesus cautioned them to go forward. To those who wanted to get unstuck, Jesus said “Pick up the mat you’re lying on and walk.” To those who were steeped in sin, Jesus said “Go and sin no more.” To those who claimed to be tight with the Big Man upstairs, Jesus said “love your neighbor.” To those who were living like they were dead, Jesus said “take off your grave clothes.”
To those who made excuses as to why they weren’t getting well, Jesus said “Move.”
Jesus was always calling people to move or to act. Pray. Forgive. Follow. Go. Confess. Repent. Bless. Give. Jesus, God who made the move to rescue humanity, He is always calling people to do something.
Don’t just sit there and hope something changes. Don’t just wait for someone else to rescue you. Don’t just assume the wind is going to come and change your direction.
Do what you can do to steer your course in the direction you want to go.
That sounds so basic and yet I know I can easily find myself complaining and stuck watching myself head in a direction I don’t want to go and doing very little to try and change my course.
The reason why the boy did not crash and potentially end up in a very serious accident was because he began to try. He began to believe another direction was possible. He began to move as though the possibility of another way could come.
The moment he put his paddle in the water and moved it was the moment he was able to rescue himself. I think God wants us to take part in rescuing ourselves. I think God wants us to realize that’s why He gave us arms and feet and a brain and experiences and ideas. I don’t think God wants us to feel helpless anymore than we want to feel helpless. But we have to be a people who put the oar in the water and start to see what is possible. May you have the courage this year to move, to be willing to try charting your course, to risk believing you can turn your life in the direction you know you need to go. And may you know, that your God is there on the shore as your biggest fan, guiding you all along the way and ready to jump in at any point that you truly need Him.
Bless you friends- Willow
THANK YOU! This is so applicable to my life right now, as I’m standing on my paddle board of my marriage. Turning may be slow, yet progress/change deep in my heart is occurring because I have a God who truly is my biggest cheerleader ?.
I’m going to print this off and put it into my journal so I can read it over and over as a reminder that I need to keep paddling.
Jim- This brings me joy to think that you are paddling towards wholeness and health in your marriage! We could all stand to do that! God be with you.