|Trust the kayak: it knows what to do. So does Christ who cradles you.
peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. (unknown)
I came across this quote this morning, emblazoned on a mug in a Facebook photo posting. I love it and now covet the mug! Sometimes I find myself living into the lie that peace will come if only something changes in my external environment. But Philippians 4:7 proclaims a different sort of peace: And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. The Message translates the same verse this way: Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But I can’t always live into it, at least not immediately. I find it much easier to trust in my own effort (which isn’t sufficient), or waste energy wishing something outside of me would change. Never mind the fact that rarely does either work!
This fall I’ve had the opportunity to go kayaking in Lake Michigan several times. On one occasion, it was quite choppy with several rows of rollers breaking on the shoreline at the same time. It looked so easy when I watched my friends, but being a very new sea kayaker myself, I was a little nervous, to say the least. My friend, Bonnie, coached me to overcome my fear, slowly at first, as I learned how to increase my comfort in the rough surf.
Trust the kayak: it knows what to do. That was her mantra and very quickly became mine as well. The more I trusted, the easier (and more fun) it was. Eventually, Bonnie encouraged me to try kayaking in one particular place where the waves were converging from at least two directions, thanks to a seawall. It looked chaotic and scary, and she had some fancy name for it. With my newfound mantra of trust the kayak, I accepted her invitation and moved into the churning, crashing, crazy waters.
As it turns out, it was chaotic and scary—and I stayed with my fear and my trust. It was a profoundly spiritual moment. I saw in a flash of insight that sometimes my life feels that chaotic and crazy, with things coming at me from every direction. And I saw with brutal clarity how Jesus is my kayak in life—that I am cradled by the One who created me and loves me. One who is wholly trustworthy and with me always.
Marcus Borg’s Heart of Christianity explores four dimensions of faith, or ways of understanding faith, that came into greater focus for me that day.
- Assent: Bonnie sharing with me the inherited wisdom to trust the boat gave me something solid to hold onto.
- Trust: when I tried to override the kayak, things didn’t go so well but when I opened myself to let the boat do what it knows to do, everything was easier.
- Faithfulness: by staying in the present in the moment and practicing the few tools I did know.
- Vision: I believed all would be well, that I had what I needed in a flotation device, helmet and friends around who know how to rescue.
And in that moment I could see how all of those things are also true in the rest of my life, always available the instant I remember and reclaim them.
I know a few people who seem to be able to trust easily and naturally, who claim that profound inner peace that is beyond our human understanding. But for me, and for most people I know, it is a daily, sometimes moment-by-moment, practice. Whether to trust in Jesus, in the peace of God which results in an inner transformation, is a choice we make, conscious or not, every moment of our lives. And truly, it’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life and calm settles into your being in the midst of the chaos.
Hope to see you Sunday!