See this? This may not look like anything earth shattering to you, but it is a major achievement for me. Until two days ago, I had never gotten in or out of my kayak from a dock. I had always launched and debarked at shore. Getting in and out from a dock is actually not easy. If you stand in the kayak, you WILL tip over and this water is sixty degrees. But the dock is not level with you. It is several inches above you.
So, to get in and out you must use your arms and your tremendous upper body strength to hold your weight as you position yourself in the kayak to either carefully lower or hoist yourself. I am still recovering from two surgeries for breast cancer, a broken rib, and a frozen shoulder ( a few of those overwhelming trials I was mentioning...) I am mostly on the mend, but I definitely do not have full upper body strength back, and it was never so great to begin with.
However, I knew that at this particular dock site, there was a public restroom and I needed that. Unfortunately, the shore launch was covered with mud since it was low tide. It would be slippery and gross to get out at shore. So I decided it was time to learn to get in and out of a kayak at a dock. There was not a soul anywhere in sight. If my kayak floated away or I fell in the water, I was sunk. Maybe literally.
First I tied my kayak to the dock and attached my paddle to the kayak. Then, I said a quick prayer and hauled myself onto the dock. It was not pretty, me flopping about with weak muscles, my boat skittery beneath my shifting weight as I heaved myself upward. But in the end: Success!!!
My reward, besides the public restroom, was I kayaked on to the Bald Eagle nest, and saw the daddy eagle come flying in with a fish in his talons. Mama eagle shrieked with delight. Both perched on a tree watching me. I even heard the fledglings chattering as they thanked their folks for the meal.
And then, on the homeward leg of my wonderful journey, a whole pod of dolphin led the way.
So it was a glorious day with wonderful creatures, but I also learned a valuable skill. When the water is really cold, it is nice to not get wet which is hard to do when launching from shore. Launching from a dock prevents me from getting wet. (Unless of course I fall in.)
So why haven't I learned this skill after ten or so years of kayaking? I was afraid. I was sure I could not do it. I was sure I would capsize my boat and both me and my kayak would suffer greatly.
Same message as yesterday which God was hammering home in a new way. DO NOT BE AFRAID.
God is with me! If you know Jesus as Lord, He is with you too. The Bible commands us not to fear. So why do I?
That is the second message I think God was sending me. I do not want any more trials and struggles in life. They frighten me because they are so hard to endure, and seem to be increasing in intensity as I grow older. (My new book Perhaps you Misheard my Prayer describes these struggles.) My fear is not unwarranted. I know that trials await everyone, and if I can avoid them...I would gladly do so.
I agree with what Charles Spurgeon has to say on this subject:
God's people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ's last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: he has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them.
However, as I settled safely back into my kayak, a great sense of accomplishment settled over me. I had done it. What I had avoided and feared for five years, I had successfully overcome. It was a small victory when one considers all the battles to be faced in life, but it gave me renewed confidence.
When our hope and trust is in God, we are promised our trials are not meaningless. All that we do in His Honor is "storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." (1 Timothy 6:19)