There is a prayer room I go to sometimes in the mountains of Colorado. It’s called The Upper Room. Some mighty, mighty warriors for Jesus built this place and every time I have visited I have had an incredible, almost unbelievable, encounter with God. Inside is the rocking chair where I surrendered my life (the self to surrender blog post) following which at a later date, I had the surreal experience of being nestled, in the fetal position, between the front paws of the Lion of Judah while he licked my wounds (The Lamb of Judah post). It’s a quiet little loft that sits a stones throw from a small lake. It may be a ½ mile across the lake in one direction and ¾ mile across in the other. There is a canoe tethered to a rock by the lake.
One morning after a gentle, soaking rain I sat on the porch swing with some coffee and listened and watched. What I heard and saw was a beautiful sight. The birds in the trees were calling and although I don’t speak bird, it was as if they were talking to one another and praising God for the rain. They were the sparrows that He provides for. Some took flight and were so graceful as they moved over the lake, swooping and rising then swooping again. It was like a symphony of sound and movement – all in rhythm with the Love of God which had a physical and commanding yet most gentle and graceful presence. The colors and the peace had a voice.
God called me to the water and said He had something to show me. I climbed in the canoe and paddled to the middle where He told me to stop. I talked to Him like He was in the boat with me, because though I could not see Him, I could feel Him with me. I turned the canoe to point its nose back to The Upper Room and I just sat in the stillness. I asked Him what I was supposed to do now, how will I know where to go, asking about the here and now but also about my bigger purpose. He told me to just keep the nose pointed where I wanted to end up. First with my physical eyes open- just fix my gaze on that point and keep the nose pointed in that direction.
The wind started to blow a little and I asked Him how I should respond. He asked me what I wanted to do. I told Him I would go wherever it blew me as long as He was with me. I took my paddles inside the boat and I didn’t resist. It blew me all the way across the lake, into some weeds, under a dock. I couldn’t see the Upper Room from my position and worry set in quickly. After waiting there a good 30 minutes, it calmed a little and I decided to paddle back to the middle of the lake.
There was a head wind. It was hard work and I was tired and frustrated. From the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of some movement. I looked up and there was a pontoon blowing by with its sails full of the wind! It was filled with laughing teenagers who seemed to be thrilled with skimming the tops of the waves! It struck me then… the very same wind that is my headwind, that causes me to struggle and fight and wear myself out, is filling their sails and providing a joy ride. I began to cry. I didn’t want to be alone in my boat. I wanted to be with them. I wanted to be laughing and having fun. I wanted to be hitting the high points. But nooooo. I was fighting and being tossed and driven backwards and alone and tired. I began to tell Jesus how that is SO not what I want. How unfair it was. How I did NOT understand why this is me and that can’t be. I thought, if those kids come close enough, I’m going to ask them to tow me a while! But they didn’t, so I was stuck.
I finally made it back to the middle of the lake and the nose was pointed home. I collapsed for a few minutes in the bottom of the canoe and sat up when I regained my strength. I pouted out loud to Jesus, “Well, here we are. If this is how it is then what do you want me to do now?” He told me to close my eyes and paddle home. Whaaat???? I asked Him how I would know where I was going, and if I could open my eyes to check. He told me to point the nose where I wanted to go; to let my body and being and spiritual eyes lock that position in place. I did what He suggested. As I paddled, a little on the left, a little on the right, I would open my eyes and check to see if I was on course. After a few tries, it got a little easier. He assured me that if i could master this I’d know what to do in the times that I can’t see Him. But then, a gust of wind would come up or the waves would be stronger and tip me a bit in one direction or the other. What He said next, still echoes in my life. He said “you’ll just have to learn to respond to the wind and the waves” .
So I’m in the middle of the lake, in the wind, with my eyes shut, alone, paddling a canoe. Not generally my idea of a good time and I was still a little sad about the implications of it. Around came the kids on the pontoon and I just cried out about the injustice.
“Deana. It is true that the same wind that is your head wind is filling their sails. But look how far away they are from the water” He said. “Now look where you are. You are very close to Me. You have the chance to know Me intimately. You will have an intimate knowledge of the wind and the waves and that is something very few people will ever have.”
I paddled all the way back without the chip on my shoulder, keeping my eyes closed. All the while responding to the wind and the waves as they rocked my boat and tried to blow me off course. My spiritual eyes had me centered on the will and the way of God and I soon arrived at the shoreline the better for it.
We all have our lofty destinations in the distance. We all have sailboats that distract us from the work at hand with longings that don’t belong. We all have our canoes tethered to our Rock. And we’re all standing on the shore, trying to decide if we’re willing to go this thing alone in the natural. No one else can live your life. No one but God can call you into the boat or tell you to get out of it or empower you to walk on water.
In this world we will have trouble. I’m learning to close my eyes to it and let His Holy wind blow. I am learning to respond to the wind and the waves by faith and not by sight.