Last Saturday a group at church was going kayaking. I was going, and I was super excited. I had never been kayaking, but I had been canoeing last August as a part of Interface (a program for new students at my university) and had a bunch of fun. I’ve always loved the water, and I thought it would be a good way to fellowship with some of the other people at church, seeing as I had just joined.
Let me tell you, it was glorious. I will definitely be going kayaking again. I had so much fun, I’m probably going to buy my own kayak after I graduate college. I had fun getting to know some other people, and learned quite a bit from the guides. I even ate a piece of Cow Lilly root. (The two male guys were very good looking too… which was nice. Anyway…) I think the best part was when I was sort of separated from the group and just kind of drifting down the Waccamaw River. I felt so close to God, and often would just say a little prayer and hum one of my favorite spiritual songs. It was really just an amazing feeling. (To be completely honest, those moments were my favorite during the trip, and why I want to do that again.)
The real reason I am writing about this though, is because I (as predicted) flipped my kayak.
I knew I would roll the kayak, and once I was in the kayak, I knew which side I would roll the kayak. And because the guide said that coming out of your kayak was fine, just don’t flip the kayak over, I knew for certain that was what would happen. I’m that talented, that I would do such a thing, and I would do it at the most awkward time possible.
So we start kayaking. Everything is going fine and well, we’ve had cow lily root, saw some snakes, learned about black water systems. The guide tells us to stop, because he’s going to show us something (probably another snake.) I stop, and I’m right up alongside some other people, and then BAM! I’m in the water with a life jacket up about my nose, flip flops and all my other things floating in the water. A few seconds of flailing and I’m upright in the water, trying to catch my breath and getting used to breathing while I’m treading water. People gathered up my stuff, and moved away so the guide and I can work on getting me back in the kayak.
Now there are 2 methods of getting back into a kayak when you cannot touch the bottom of the river and there is no bank. Put your head toward the back of the kayak, throw your right leg over the side and haul yourself over, or, go to the back of the kayak, grab on to the back end and pull while simultaneously kicking as hard as you can to propel yourself back into the kayak.
We tried the first one a couple of times, but I felt a muscle start pulling, so I said no. (This was also after I whipped the life jacket off because I couldn’t move my arms or see.) then we tried the other way a few times, and there was no way that was working. Finally the guide said my best bet was going to be the first method. We had be at this for about 5 minutes at this point, and I was ready to say “Listen, just let me swim this one. I can handle it. I grew up on Lake Erie, and I swam in a pond at my grandparents house all summer since I was knee high to a grasshopper!” But, I trusted the guide, and managed to get back into the kayak. (I used my noodle and planted my foot on a foot pedal, instead of just throwing it in there all willy nilly and expecting it to work.)
And as I was kayaking away from that event, I got to thinking. That was a trust building exercise, and it’s kind of like our relationship with God. He helps us into the kayak, he shows us how to use the paddle, and he tells us not to flip our kayak. He warns us of the dangers that are ahead, but assures us that we’ll be okay if we trust them. And when we flip out of our kayak, he helps us get back in, but we have to trust that he knows what is best for us and will get us back into that kayak. So many of us, however, give up, and won’t trust that God will get us back on track that we say “Forget it, I’ll swim” and shut him out. And then we put ourselves at the mercy of all sorts of things. Exhaustion, alligators, drowning, and probably a host of other things I didn’t consider at the time.
I have found a love of kayaking, but I know that I need a guide if I don’t want to get lost or die or something like that, just like I know that I need God in my life because otherwise, I would fall victim to all sorts of sin, and I would be ensnared by them for ever.
I got back into the kayak. Will you?