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kayak

What Are You Looking At?

While visiting my son a couple of years ago, I borrowed his kayak to paddle the finger of a lake upon which his house was tucked at the end. The morning was so beautiful and the water so still and peaceful that I glided with speed to the mouth of the finger where it opened into a much larger expanse of lake. Seeing no motorboat traffic, I ventured further into the main body of the lake until I could see a tiny (but actually very large) house on the opposite shore that begged closer inspection. This was a moment of decision, as I was already a long distance from my son’s boat dock: could I continue my exploration AND still have the energy and strength to paddle back? Because the trip had been so easy to that point, I proceeded.

It wasn’t until I reached the other shore and turned around that I felt the wind in my face. Problem!! The same thing that made the first half of the journey so effortless, threatened to keep me from returning. No one knew where I was, and my cell phone was at the house. Earlier prayers of thanksgiving to God immediately gave way to cries for help. The Lord responded by saying, “Do not focus on the wind, or how fatigued you feel. Look at Me. Keep your eyes on Me.”

I have always marveled at the biblical account of Jesus casting a demon out of a boy where His disciples had tried and failed. When they asked why they couldn’t do it, Jesus replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20-21)

I would like to believe that I have faith at least as small as a mustard seed. Yet, when I look at the Blue Ridge Mountains, I know they will not be displacing themselves because I said so. God used my lake kayaking experience to teach me what I was longing to know. In that moment, the Lord instructed me to paddle at a steady pace against the wind. Then, He kept me in conversation with Him on multiple topics until I looked up and suddenly noticed I was within 100 feet of my son’s boat dock. What a miraculous distraction!

I learned that the mountain is whatever we are looking at. For me that day, it was physical fatigue, buffeting winds, and miles of water. For the disciples, it was a demon acting out in a boy. For others, it can be anything from illness to personal tragedies and hardships. It is whatever looms large in our lives, and therefore, obscures and commands dominance over our field of vision. The mustard seed of faith is taking that first step towards Jesus that invites us to take the next one, and the next. When He is so much our focus that we are no longer obsessing on/in our circumstances, He moves those mountains for us, without our help. How many times have we heard of a single person finding their marriage partner after they had stopped looking, and started nurturing their relationship with Christ?

The richness of Jesus’ Word is magnified at the realization that He has orchestrated a holy set up. Every difficulty we face is actually an opportunity to allow the reality of His Presence to overwhelm the reality of the circumstance. “But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” (2 Cor 3:18 TLB) Jesus was not exaggerating…in Him nothing is impossible.