Against my better judgment I went canoeing last week. By myself.
It seems it slipped my mind that – even on my best day – I am borderline incapable of EVERYTHING. I mean, I cry when there are too many dishes in the sink and lack the skill-set to do much more than chug water and make chili, let alone the tenacity or the arm muscles needed to paddle my way out of a rain storm.
But it happened.
…The slipping of my mind AND the rain storm!
It began how all storms start, with one rain drop landing right on the tip of my nose and only after I had wandered far from the dock I had pushed off from.
Alarmed, I quickly reached for the oars and did my best to navigate the boat, but as I paddled it began to rain harder, the wind pushing against my best efforts as I oared. I fought the wind as hard as I could, pushing strong and purposefully through the water. Each of my attempts to steady the boat sent it spinning in the opposite direction.
I knew no matter how furiously I paddled, there was no chance I was going to be able to dock the boat where I had originally came in at (what with my lack of tenacity and all.) So I slammed the boat onto some random part of the shore.
Wobbling my way down to the edge of the boat I jumped out on land, my feet sinking in the mud as I attempted to pull the boat up hill and the rest of the distance.
When I was out of breath, covered in mud and mumbling curse words under my breath about how I should have just stayed inside and spent my time doing much more enjoyable things, like eating girl scout cookies, the Lord spoke so clearly it startled me,
“…Imagine where you would be had I left you to navigate the storms of this life on your own…”
…I pictured my failed attempts at controlling the direction of the boat….slamming onto some random shore to escape the storm… dragging what was far too heavy for me to carry on my own, until I nearly passed out…
It got me thinking of the ways the Lord had been there for me through the storms of this last year. How my life, like my canoe, had been traveling along on its merry way when a single rain drop – one confession made on a bitterly cold night – ushered in the storm that would jostle my little life into a chaos I couldn’t see my way out of.
How I was terrified, but never left to navigate the downpour alone because God was with me in the treacherous waters. Calming the storm in my heart and my family and working tirelessly to bring me to safety.
In Psalm 107:23-30 it says,
Some went off to sea in ships…
Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wit’s end.
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and He saved them from their distress.
Without God and the stillness only He can bring, we are just like these sailors described in the Bible; paddling strong and hard and not getting very far, crying out in terror and nearly at our wit’s end. Like my canoe trip, we are aimlessly searching for a way to escape the storm, our best efforts doing little more than leaving us drenched in mud and struggling to pick up the pieces in our own strength.
But God doesn’t leave us alone to figure it out, verse 29-30 says,
“…[God] calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.
What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into Harbor!”
Here’s what I know: We cry out to a God who is able to rescue that which is being ‘tossed to the heavens and plunged to the depths’ in our lives – our marriages, our health, our finances – Whatever it is that has left us broken-hearted, frightened and at the breaking point!
Our God hears our cries and will save us from our distress, bringing that which is out of control and out of our hands to a place of complete stillness and safety.
And He doesn’t stop there –
Verse 24 says those who encountered the storm, “…Observed the Lord’s power in action, His impressive works on the deepest seas.”
The storms we face are a gift –
An invitation to see first hand the Power of the Lord in action. An opportunity given only to those who have suffered, reeled and screamed out in terror. Those who have found themselves navigating the DEEPEST SEAS.
Because just like the verse says,
The Lord reserves His most impressive works for those voyaging the deepest – and often, the most terrifying – seas.
My life is proof of that.
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As I walked back up to the cabin in the rain I thanked God for the raging storms in my life. I told Him how grateful I was that He never made me venture those storms alone because no doubt, they would have ended just as poorly as my canoe trip.
Then suddenly the rain came to a complete stop, and I watched as the waters stilled and all became quiet again. I considered the beautiful stories I could tell of God doing the same thing in my life and my heart, how He has ushered me safely to the place I am today – Not in spite of the storms I have faced, but because of them!
Then I went inside, changed my muddy jeans and cozied up to the fire and ate some girl scout cookies in celebration of the gift I had failed to see I’d been given;
The storm that caused it. The safety and stillness God brought in the midst of it. And the stories I will tell because of it.
Stories of the Lord’s most impressive works
on the deepest seas.