A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a little canoeing trip. Although it was supposed to be relaxing, when we first got into the boat, we were freaking out. The boat was much smaller, and much less stable, than we had expected. This thing was supposed to carry the two of us down a river? To top it off, I also struggle with emetophobia, and the last time I threw up, I was on a boat. So, as only people afraid of throwing up would understand, I was certain I would get sick on this rickety little canoe.
My husband, being much more calm than I am, took no more than five minutes to fully get over it. I, on the other hand, felt nauseous, then started hysterically crying and asking if we could go home. I negotiated with my husband, politely asking him to turn the boat around. Then I threatened my husband, reminding him that I was also carrying an ore and would bring this canoe right back to the dock (which, by the way, was only a couple of feet away).
To get me to go further out into the river, Lenny started to challenge me. “Let’s make it to that boat up ahead. If you still want to go home, we can go home after that.” I made it to the next boat. And the next one. And past a bird. And past the dock. And past that patch of low tide where we pitched our boat for a couple of minutes to catch a breather. Lenny ultimately wanted to go to a bird sanctuary that was at least forty minutes away. I was scared, but I wanted him to enjoy himself. I also wanted to show my anxiety who’s boss!
After about a half hour, my anxiety had fully subsided. Birds flew overhead, and the only sound we could hear was our ores swimming in the river. It was so calm and peaceful, I wanted to stay outside all day. We even thought about the possibility of buying a boat!
Going out on the canoe for the first time, I didn’t understand how the disciples did it. I didn’t know how Peter had the audacity to step out of the rocky boat and attempt to stand on the stormy waters (see Matthew 14). I couldn’t comprehend how these men could earn their living catching fish, spending most of their waking hours rocking back and forth in the choppy sea.
But then I understood.
John A. Shedd wrote, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” Ships are incredibly dangerous. Not only can you get seasick (which is scary enough for me to avoid a cruise), but the weather is also out of your control, and you can get lost at sea. Have you ever seen a movie where there’s so much fog, and the boat is so far out, that the people in the boat can’t see land in their field of vision? Ugh, I’m shuddering just thinking about it!
And yet, there’s something within all of us that desires to go through it anyway. We desire to do the impossible, the scary, the dangerous. That’s because we, like ships, were not created for “safe” lives. We were created to make a difference. We were created to glorify God by doing the impossible through His strength.
Although God has an adventure of a life for all of us, He also is the only one that allows us to have true peace. We can plow through white water rapids, or we can keep our ores still as we soak up the sun and float over calm waters. Each season of life provides a new way for us to travel on this river of a race that God has marked out for us (see Hebrews 12:1).
So, where is your ship today? Is it safe in the harbor, is it sailing the rough seas (even making you a little queasy), or is it simply enjoying the ride?