Thursday, March 24, 2016

Against the Wind - Thoughts On Battling Hardship

Little did I know that the wind was determined to teach me yet another lesson about hardships. As if a cancer diagnosis was not chock full of enough lessons to last me for the next...oh, lifetime or two...God sent the wind to reveal His truth yesterday.

Knowing that once the surgery is done, I will be sidelined at least two weeks or so, I am using every moment I can to kayak. So I dashed off to my favorite lake. As soon as I arrived, I knew I was in trouble. My hat was nearly blown off my head. I realized if I were wearing a wig, which I would be after chemo, it would be blown to the next county by this wind.

So while unloading my kayak (despite my inner voice saying ARE YOU NUTS???? YOU CAN'T KAYAK IN THIS WIND!!!!) I began to muse over sister Amy's suggestion that I stencil hair on my bald head. The pictures on the internet of bald heads with stenciled hair are lovely...but mostly because the models are knock-you-down gorgeous with expertly applied makeup and taut unwrinkled skin. Face it, the stencils would not have the same effect on me. (When I am bald. I'm not yet.)

Back to the task at hand. I launched, and was quickly wondering if the beauty of the lake was worth the shellacking I was going to receive at the hand of the wind. It was brutal. The gusts had to be 30 mph or more. There were times I was paddling as hard as I could, and not moving.

Then my doctor's office called. Here is a tasty tidbit for those of you about to embark on a new cancer adventure. Every day some medical person is calling for one reason or another. I answered my cell phone, and was quickly blown downwind to the far end of the lake at a pretty spectacular pace.

Normally, I can kayak that distance back to where I started in no time. Not against a hurricane, however. I ended the phone call, and began the extremely arduous journey back to the dock. I looked in the distant distance at the dock, paddling for all I was worth. I did not appear to be gaining an inch.

So I changed my focus. I only looked at the trough of the wave in front of me. Just make it to the next trough, crest the wind tossed wave, and then focus on the trough after that.

Slowly, straining with all my might, I made it from trough to trough. Sometimes the wind would die down a little, and I paddled furiously to gain as much ground as possible before it roared to full throttle again. In this manner, I advanced.

And understood.

When we face a daunting trial for the foreseeable future, looking all the way to the end of the road we will travel is usually discouraging. Better to look straight ahead at only the next step. And then focus on the one after that. There may be lots of lows, the troughs of life. Only take one at a time. Take advantage of the lulls in between the really hard parts, but don't try to anticipate all the hard parts to determine if you have the strength.

You don't. None of us do.

But God does. It is very merciful that God rarely reveals more than one step at a time. He only gave one day of manna at a time to His people as they wandered through the desert for forty years. He reminds us we are only to consider the troubles of today. It will have enough to occupy us, and tomorrow's troubles should not be borrowed in advance. It's not like there is such a shortage of troubles that we should hoard them ahead of time.

Such good advice. Thank you, Wind.

I made my way slowly, but steadily. In half an hour, I reached the dock. I was so amazed at how I had successfully battled that terrible wind, that I decided to keep going past the dock, against the wind until I was totally tired. I was only 3/4ths tired thus far. I would not have to work at all to return to the dock. The wind would blow me effortlessly home.

When my arms began to ache and my reserves were depleted, I turned the kayak around. With the wind now blessedly at my back, I stopped paddling. The wind carried me on angel's wings back to the dock. Since no one else was foolish enough to be out in that wind, I made up a song and sang it out loud. It was about how God will carry me safely home. It was not Grammy-worthy, but only me and the wind heard it anyway.

Ephesians 4:14 

So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Jeremiah 10:23 

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

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