The start of our last day on the island was a full on rain storm. Waves were breaking around 3-4 feet on the water and the waves were pushing in the opposite direction we needed to paddle that day. Knowing full well that the canoe we have is not designed for such rough water; we needed to make a decision. Wait a few more hours in hopes that the storm calms down, go now and push the canoe past its capabilities against the waves or paddle with the water to our backs to shore and hike the canoe out.

Either way we began packing up the soaked gear from the night before. Once all the gear was secured in the canoe we realized the storm was not letting up, if anything it was getting worse. In our minds we thought again…yeah we got this. So we made the decision to go now with a very “good” plan of paddling against the waves. The strategy was to start on the back side of the island where the waves were not so bad. This would make it easier to line the canoe straight into the waves once we come around the side. Then we would keep the bow of the canoe directly into the waves. I would take the front and do the strong paddling up each wave to keep water out of the boat and my brother would handle all steering.

Everything was going as planned. Coming from the back side of the island we were met by heavy winds, rain and waves. As each wave came I would give a strong push to keep the water just 1 inch below the gunnel (sides) of the canoe.   Pushing hard and focusing on each wave coming I kept my eyes directly ahead as I had one goal…keep the bow up on each wave. Any distraction would surely mean we would take on water. Pushing with everything I had for a full hour I knew we must have made some great progress. Taking a moment I looked starboard to check how far we have gone…a mile a least right. What I saw was disappointing at best. The island was still right next to us!

An hour of hard paddling and zero progress was made. Top it off I was getting very tired. Keeping the bow above the waves was becoming nearly impossible now. Slowly the waves came closer and closer to the bow and water began filling in. With this I yelled to my brother “we need a new plan”! With that I decided to put the waves behind us and head directly to shore. We were going to have to hike our way out. With that I waited for the right break in the waves and yelled….HARD TO PORT (yes, I actually said that).  We turned extremely fast and before we knew it we were moving very quickly. The waves were now making our paddling efforts pointless. With no effort we were on shore in no time, the waves we were fighting did all the work. Sure we still had to hike out 3-4 miles with no trail, all while carrying a canoe and gear but at least we did not cap size and the adventure did not end.   We were safe and the final destination was actually possible.

Had we stayed on the water we would have eventually gotten so tired that the boat would have filled with water, the canoe would have capsized and we would have put ourselves in a very bad position. We would have been completely soaked, with no gear, in the water swimming to shore.…..Yup ….you see it coming don’t you…the parallel. If not, it’s time to get in the boat. Poor pun intended.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I love a good challenge but I have learned that when I rely on my strength to smash against the waves of life’s challenges and not Gods I find myself tired, frustrated and making no forward progress. Many times I have to turn around from the path I am on. Reflect and rest in his strength for a while till he brings me to a place where I can turn around again. Once I finally make that full 360, this time with a renewed focus on solid ground; its then I begin making forward progress to the goal. The journey is still long and hard…but at least when I am on the right path, with the right motives, relying on his provision…its then I will succeed in the adventure the lord has for me.

What waves are you trying to fight in your life? Are you relying on your strength instead of his? Is it time to turn around for a season to rest on his strength until you can get back on his path? Is it time for a 360?

Please leave your comments below and stay tuned for part 3 of 3 coming soon.

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