When Life Takes You So Far Out, You Can’t See the Shoreline


(Contributed by Sarah Richmond. Read about all our writers here.)

On a recent afternoon, the lake outside my window was calling, so I decided to grab my kayak and 7-year-old son to snag some one-on-one time with him. We have been kayaking a handful of times together, but just relocated a few months ago to an area right on the water. The sun beat down warm and the chill of the lake in late spring refreshed as we balanced and settled in, pushing off from the shore. I paddled us out around the perimeter of the shore for a bit and then ventured further into the open waters, eager to explore some new area of the lake. The harbor where we dropped in was no longer visible, and before us the water opened wide, stretching to the horizon.

File Jun 02, 7 10 43 PM“Okay, are we going back now?” my passenger inquired. Half thinking he was kidding, I laughed a bit and reminded him we had just set out.

We weren’t on the water much longer when the buzz of a couple jet skis approached from behind, followed by a boat pulling a two inner tubes full of laughing kids. I paused paddling as the wake from each vessel reached us, momentarily sending the kayak bobbing up and down over the ripples of water.

“Now, can we turn back?” my son asked again. “I’m ready to go back in.”

Again, I reassured him, pointing out the life vest he was wearing, and how much I care for him and would keep him safe. At one point I heard myself ask, “Do you trust me, buddy? Do you believe I love you and want you safe?”

His nerves would calm for a few minutes until another boat whizzed by us or I paused paddling. Then we would go back through the entire conversation again.

After about an hour, and much to my son’s relief, I turned to head back. In between his chatter over whether jellyfish can live in lakes and what color boat he wants to own someday, I quietly processed his unexpected response to our little voyage. He wasn’t unfamiliar with kayaking, and had been excited to venture out with me on the impulsive trip. For some reason his anxiety level elevated nearly as soon as we were on the water.

File Jun 02, 7 27 27 PM

Thinking back to all of our previous kayak adventures, I realized – we had always gone down rivers before. Rivers that were narrow enough to be able to easily walk or swim across from bank to bank. He had always been able to keep his eyes on the shore. In contrast, on the lake, where I saw opportunities to explore new terrain, and soaked in the vastness of the water before us, my little boy saw an unfamiliar, scary abyss.

Adding to his agitation, he wasn’t in control of our boat. I held the paddle, the power so to speak, and he just had to go on faith I would keep him safe. With him seated in front of me, he didn’t even have the ability to watch me maneuver the kayak. Every time I had stopped paddling, he wavered in confidence and wanted to go back home. He couldn’t see what was happening and it unraveled him a bit.

Understanding clicked in my soul and as is common, I saw myself in my son’s seat. How excited I can be for a journey, only to panic as soon as my boat leaves the safety of the harbor. I doubt and want to turn back, all the while Jesus is there keeping me balanced in the wake of uncertainty, reassuring me in calm tones, and asking me, “Do you trust me?”

There are times when He leads me beside the still waters and then there are times He calls me out into the deep. Either way, He calls, and in the calling lies His promise to tend to, care for and protect me, even when I can’t see the shore.

In-story Photo Credits: Sarah Richmond

Photo Header: Chris Casper

Originally Published 9/2/2016

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