In July, Michael, the kids and I went up to Luther Heights Bible Camp in the Idaho Sawtooths to serve as camp pastors for High School week. It was a fun week of camp—we had about 50 kids from Idaho, Utah, and Oregon. Michael and I helped with worship services, gave staff devotions and “Back Deck Chats” (little talks on the theme of the day each night after supper), and generally mixed in with the campers during meals, activity times, and canteen.
One afternoon Michael and I took Jack and Natalie canoeing on Lake Perkins. Neither Michael nor I are expert canoers—we consider it a successful outing if we’ve ended up where we wanted to go, instead of traveling in circles.
Last year we went around the lake and explored the inlet. This year I wanted to go down the outlet river. So we got to the river and headed down it. The river is shallow—18 inches or so, and we hardly had to paddle other than to steer. After a couple of hundred yards, the grade gets steeper, and the river breaks into small riffles. What fun!
Belatedly, Michael and I remembered that we would have to paddle back up this increasingly fast river. We turned around, knowing that we had quite a bit of work ahead of us. We paddled as hard as we could, hardly making any progress. In our efforts, we soaked the kids, who were by now crying. Our nice canoe ride had turned into a miserable trial. Finally, the current was so strong that we couldn’t keep the canoe headed upstream. In defeat, we decided to portage back to the lake.
We nosed the canoe close to shore, and I jumped out to pull us in. But as I pulled the canoe, I discovered how ridiculously easy it was to pull upstream. The water was shallow, and the canoe felt like a feather as I pulled it through the riffles, around the corner, and back to the lake.
Why had we struggled so hard to paddle our way back to the lake when it was so easy to pull the canoe? For us, in admitting defeat and surrendering our plans, we discovered a better way.
Our lives are filled with all sorts of these surprises. We struggle; we become exhausted by our trials and burdens. It is only when we give up our ideas of how things should be, when we surrender OUR way of doing things, that we are open to God’s way. As we pray, “HELP!” God shows us his way. You can trust that God will bless you with his guidance.