Kayaking was a newly introduced pastime for me, and this was my third time on the river. This portion of the river, above the dam, was very calm and incredibly beautiful. I joined folk from church and a co-worker, her first time kayaking. Everyone was excited to get started.
My co-worker and I chatted with the attendant who was very cordial and reassuring to her because she was concerned about capsizing. “It’s virtually impossible to flip the kayak,” he told us. He explained how the instructors were required to pass rigorous tests that included attempting to capsize; it would really require work to do so.
Soon we were all out on the water. My only concern was that God might play another joke on me like the last time when, returning to port, a giant spider emerged out of my kayak! I had checked my float extra well this time, so no worries. The sun was bright and hot, and the river was exceptionally calm. Here above the dam the depth was 35 feet, which made for the smooth ride unlike below where it was not more than six feet deep and was faster and choppier.
We paddled some and rested some while laughing and talking. About a quarter mile up the river, just before a turn, I commented to my co-worker about something I’d been wondering: “It seems like my kayak has more water in it than when I started.” Or was I just imagining this? But my bottom was wet now. We paddled a little farther, and then I rested, reclining against the backrest. I made the slightest pivot to the left and felt all the water in the kayak rush left; and I was instantly in the river!
I imagine that moment being what death is like because it was the most instant and shockingly new experience I’d had in a long time! My first instinct was to panic, and I think I yelped a few times before I could hear my own words: Emotion kills. Then it dawned on me, “Stop fighting, fool! Just lay back.” I had a lifejacket on. That tense moment over, I laid back in the water and was pulled by a fellow kayaker over to an island just to our left. I dumped the kayak and returned it to the attendant who later found what I had suspected: a leak.
No Need to Fear
I imagine God speaking to us in our cares and trials the way I spoke to myself: “Stop your struggling! Stop exhausting yourself! I’ve got you.” He calls an end to our fruitless wresting and needless anxiety and points us to his immediacy and encompassing care for us.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Is. 41:10).
And again, so appropriate here:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you (Isa. 43:2).
Friend, your “lifeboat” is going to capsize somewhere along this journey, and sometimes you’ll have the God of all purpose to thank for tipping it! But so what? He doesn’t need to be the “Captain of your ship” when he walks on the waters and speaks peace to them. You are firmly in his grasp. You are his.