While on vacation this summer, my youngest son and I decided that we would try our hand at kayaking along the inter-coastal canal. I thought it would be a great mom and son bonding event, and he agreed to indulge my out- door adventure bonding fantasy.
After a bit of research we found a place to rent a kayak and headed out to enjoy an afternoon on the water. We were both excited and anxious to see how the day would unfold, and in all honesty, just a bit nervous. Once we arrived at the rental place, a very nice lady gave us some rowing pointers and a detailed map of the canals. All was well until she began a long lecture about alligators and mating manatee!!
Once the lecture part of the afternoon was over, we slipped into our life vests and made our way to the water to claim our kayak. Much to my son’s chagrin, I felt strongly that we needed to be in a 2-man kayak. There was just something in my momma spirit that didn’t want us to be in separate kayaks out on the water. What if something happened to him and I couldn’t get to him? How am I supposed to wrestle an alligator from a separate kayak if he is under attack? Full on momma worry had me declaring that it was a 2-man kayak for us so that we could stay together. (Yes, my son is taller than I am. Yes, my son is basically stronger than I am. What’s your point? Don’t judge.)
Being in a kayak together meant that we needed to learn how to work together and row in tandem. The nice alligator facts lady had informed us that the strongest rower should be in the back of the kayak, so as we headed to the water I naturally aimed for the back seat.
Would you believe that my son actually laughed OUT LOUD at the idea that I would be the stronger rower?
I LET him have the backseat; no sense in destroying his teenage ego!
With that hurdle resolved we stepped into the kayak, and by some small miracle managed not to immediately dump ourselves into the water. We were off and headed out into the canal!
This is where it gets ugly folks.
In less than one minute, just sixty hot seconds, and I knew that my vision of a beautiful afternoon gliding along the water, bonding over the shared experience of rowing along the canal, was totally NOT REALITY.
The minute our kayak inched into the canal, my usually mild mannered son became an extreme rowing dictator!
“More on your Right!”
“Come on Mom, not so much on your left.”
Who is this kid?
Since when is he the rowing expert?
To add to the frustration, we were at total odds about everything we were doing. I would be rowing right and he would be rowing left. I would think we needed to head one direction and he was adamantly sure that we needed to go a different way. With all of the cross-purpose rowing, our kayak was not exactly moving along and we quickly became exhausted with the constant pushing and pulling of working against one another.
Then there were the boats.
If you hear my son tell the story, we almost died a tragic and horrific death due to speeding boats and massive wake waves. The truth is that all the boaters were more than conscious of the kayakers and always slowed to a crawl, sending out only minimal waves for us to negotiate. But that is NOT how he saw them. Every boat was an impending instrument of death, bearing down on us with malicious intent, which completely heightened his need to bark rowing orders at the back of my head. Needless to say, things were decelerating quickly!
We are still in complete disagreement about how we ran into a DOCK, AND GOT STUCK ON A SANDBAR (both of which were totally his fault), but trust me when I tell you that neither experience added value to the afternoon!
By this point we were only about half way out to the part of the canal that we wanted to see and still had the entire return trip ahead of us. I was in complete repentance for ever having suggested that we get into a 2-man kayak and I was praying through clenched teeth for Jesus to intervene so that I didn’t personally feed the boy to the first alligator I saw.
Bless both of our hearts!
Truth be told, there WERE a FEW fleeting moments in which we would find ourselves in sync, rowing together in a quick glimmer of unity. In these small snatches of peace I was able to look around and see how truly beautiful the water was and take in the gorgeous trees, and birds, and sunlight. We even saw some dolphins playing and swimming just a few feet away from us.
But we could never sustain those moments, so we headed back to port, frustrated and exhausted, never having fully reached our destination.
Life is like this sometimes.
Sometimes we are in the kayak of our destiny, of our calling, but we find ourselves at cross purposes with the “stronger rower”, and we don’t really get anywhere.
Unlike my son, (bless his sweet, skinny, hide), God really does know how to steer the ship. We just have to let him.
Too often we think that if we are IN the kayak, IN his will for us, that this should be enough. We say that we will be obedient to the call of God in our lives (getting in the kayak), but then we spend all of our time at cross-purposes with the direction he is leading us in; only exhausting ourselves, without ever making any progress.
The saddest part of all is that we often have moments where we glimpse how smoothly things could go if we were in tandem with God’s working and in agreement with his route. We look up and see the beauty he has surrounded us with and we are in awe of his goodness and love. But all too soon we pick up our oar of independence and fight against the current of his plan. Rowing right when he has clearly told us left.
I wonder if God ever gets tired of shouting directions at the back of our stubborn heads?!
It’s all just exhausting!
But what if today we stopped rowing so hard against the will of our Father? What if we realized that God has the map and knows exactly how to get us to our destination? What if we gave up the strongest-rower-back-seat and recognized HIS strength and HIS might? What if we began to believe that he is truly capable of getting us where we need to be?
Can you hear him?
Lean in. Trust his strength. Believe in his perfect plan.
It is going to be a beautiful ride.+