A few weeks ago, my husband and I went canoeing with family members down the Pere Marquette River near Ludington, Michigan. I think it’s taken me this long to write about it because there was some trauma involved, but now as I reflect back, I realize there were many life lessons we can learn from canoeing.
My husband and I are novices at canoeing so we ran into trouble more times than I’d like to remember. We capsized twice; one time I hit the back of my head on a four inch in diameter tree branch. I don’t know what my body found in the other mishap, but it resulted in bruises up and down my left leg. I thought of Jesus’ words, in John 16:33: In this world you will have trouble…”
It took us two hours to understand this, but when canoeing, you must anticipate the problems ahead and begin paddling well before the current has a chance to overtake you. I realized that’s one life lesson. When we spot temptation or a compromising situation ahead, do we steer clear of it before the current is too strong to resist?
The next lesson I learned is sometimes in life we will get bonked on the head and there is nothing we can do about it. When I hit my head, our canoe was headed straight for the mammoth tree branch that only sat six inches off the water. When my husband yelled, “Duck!” I knew there was no avoiding it because I couldn’t bend low enough to prevent the collision. I also pondered, life is that way, right? Sometimes there is no running from the bonk in the head. 1 Peter 4:12,13 says, Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. That’s interesting. Didn’t Christ also suffer on a tree?
Because I was in the front of the canoe, my job was not to steer the vessel. I only paddled when my husband told me to. I had to trust him to guide us down the river, which turned out to be difficult for me as I would try to “help us out” every so often. Therein is the third lesson. In life, God is in the back of our canoe and we must trust Him to steer us because he knows the stretches and bends of our life river and he sees the difficulties that we are unaware of yet. So if God had been in the back of our canoe on the Pere Marquette, rather than my husband, would we have still toppled into the river twice? I want to say, “no,” but sometimes God allows the setbacks to draw us nearer to him and to teach us a few lessons, all preparation for that final canoe ride to eternity. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.