It was Adventure Day at the Farm.
A friend sent out an invitation to spend the day at the farm and create our own “adventure.” That was all I needed to hear, and I was there.
Because my favorite new activity is kayaking, my eyes lit up when I arrived on the property and saw two kayaks resting on an embankment.
After meeting new people and visiting for a while, my friend Sarah and I decided to venture out onto the water. Gathering sunscreen, hats, and glasses, we told our hostess where we were headed … but not until her boyfriend chimed in.
“Hey, do you want to make this more of an adventure? It’s Adventure Day at the Farm, you know.”
Instead of heading over to the small, placid lake on the property, he suggested loading up the kayaks and heading down to a creek a short distance away where we could paddle downstream a half mile. The creek was winding, with trees lining it and rocks to maneuver around. I had had shoulder surgery three months before, and my surgeon had released me to slowly integrate normal activities into my daily regimen. I was eager to exercise my shoulder, and this was just what I wanted.
It wasn’t long before we were afloat. Sarah hadn’t kayaked before, but she caught on quickly. The water was low but had enough current to help carry us along the way. Not much time passed before we encountered a bend. Positioned in front of me, Sarah was about to go over a short ledge when she abruptly stuck her oar into the creek bed and stopped.
“Oh, no … we can’t go any further.”
Downstream was a tree that had fallen across the creek, blocking passage. Disappointed, we maneuvered ourselves and turned around, giving me the opportunity to give my shoulder a good workout.
Before I realized it, Sarah was back upstream. I had opted to stick closer to the bank on the opposite side of where we put in in order to stay out of what little current there was. I soon found myself stalled in the middle of thick weeds, then on top of rocks in a low area and, finally, lodged against the bank. Pushing myself away with the oar, I moved as quickly as I could to get away from the obstacles.
Paddle, paddle, paddle. Drift, drift, drift. I was in the same place.
Do you ever work tirelessly at something and find yourself in the same place? It’s exasperating and frustrating, isn’t it?
I repeated the routine at least a dozen times before deciding to grab hold of tree branches and roots that extended themselves overhead and alongside of me. I added to the routine.
Pull, pull, pull. Paddle, paddle, paddle. Drift, drift, drift.
Sarah had found a resting place on some rocks in shallow water and sat watching, somewhat amused. She was learning what not to do when kayaking.
“Why not try to get yourself out in the middle more and head this direction?” she asked.
No. I felt more secure hanging onto the branches and roots. Soon they started to entangle me. My cap and hair were snagged by a tree limb. The kayak made a big wobble. Water filled it. Drenched and sitting in a floating bathtub, I became frustrated. I couldn’t get myself out of the predicament with my limited strength, but I wasn’t about to give up.
So the struggle continued, and Sarah sat and watched.
After what seemed like forever, she piped up again.
“Why don’t you do what I did?”
“Oh, yeah? What’s that?”
“Just step out of the kayak and pull it over here.” (Youngsters can be such smartypants.)
Do you know how many times in my life the answer has been so simple but I wanted to work things out my way?
In my humanness, I sit submerged in a mess of my own making, struggling, scrapping, fighting, then stopping to reassess and focus on the next scheme to free myself. I get ensnared in worldly solutions, stalled in wrong decisions, and trapped in situations that leave me wondering how I got there. I can be my own worst enemy.
Knowing our human nature, but permitting choice, God presents two options: Struggle with life in my own strength or — without expending any energy — choose the grace He offers through “[Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinners, so that [I] will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).
As pastor and teacher Tony Evans explains, “Grace is never limited by God’s flow; it’s only limited by our restriction.” The choice is mine: Step into the free-flowing waters of God’s grace, allowing Him to show me the way, or fight my way through life on my terms.
My energy was spent. I decided to take Sarah’s advice. We pulled the kayaks out of the creek, loaded them into the pickup and drove over to the lake, where we glided along smoothly in the deep, cool water.
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Pam Freitag Weyant traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. Her best friends are her steno machine (she works as a freelance court reporter), her aged but adorable cocker spaniel Jake, and books. She is grateful for time spent traveling, writing creative nonfiction, and working out. Her goal is to share her story with others so they may also find freedom in a redemptive Savior. Read more of Pam’s Breath on Paper bio here.