Thursday, March 15, 2012

What I Learned from a Canoe

It was spring time in Michigan, dreary, cold and rainy.   The dampness had crawled into my coat and made itself at home.  Could I be more miserable . . .  I wondered. 

The idea of a day-long canoe trip on the Manistee River in Northern Michigan seemed like a great adventure at the time.  My canoe partner had never canoed on a river but she had more experience than me so; I thought we were good to go.  We agreed she should steer and we set off on our journey, completely unaware of the misery that awaited us.

It didn’t take long for both of us to figure out that canoeing on a lake is completely different than canoeing on a rushing river!  Before we knew it I was lying flat on my back wedged between the canoe and a gigantic tree! Fortunately for us there was another canoe with a couple of guys behind us. They helped us out of our predicament and sent us on our way.

But it was as if our canoe was a magnet to every fallen tree in the river!  As time passed, we both grew incredibly frustrated and then as if things couldn’t get worse it started to rain. 

Time after time our nice friends would graciously pull us out of one dilemma after another.  After rescuing us over and over they finally suggested that we switch and one of them should go with my partner and I should join the other canoe. 

I gladly put one foot in their canoe but that’s all I got in before the canoes began to separate and I fell into the freezing, bitter cold water.  I came up gasping for air wishing that this day would come to an end.  I hated this trip, was completely miserable and purposed in my heart that hell would freeze over before I ever got into another canoe.

I find it interesting how often that infamous canoe trip has mirrored my relationship with God.  Let me explain. . . 

When I gave my heart to Jesus, I started off with a great sense of adventure and excitement at the prospect of this new relationship with the God of the universe.  But it was only a short time before I became disillusioned when life was hard and didn’t work out like I thought it should. 

 I continued to steer my own canoe of life, getting into trouble every step of the way.  Each time I would turn to God and expect him to rescue me, which He did time and time again.  I became more and more frustrated with this yo-yo life I was leading and began to wonder if God had a different plan.

As I began to listen, God gently showed me that I wasn’t supposed to steer my boat and ask for His help along the way.  He wanted me to get into His boat and let Him direct my course. 

I knew what I had to do.  But even as I was stepping into His canoe, I found myself questioning whether I could really trust Him or not.  Did He have my best interest at heart?  Would He allow terrible things to happen to me?  My fear paralyzed me and I ended up with one foot in my boat and one foot in His which ultimately plunged me into an abyss of doubt and despair. 

My emotional bankruptcy propelled me towards change.  I recognized that I had to surrender EVERYTHING to Him and place my faith and trust in this God who created me and loved me enough to send His Son to die for me.

 I made the choice to step fully into His boat and leave mine behind.

. . . “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”   Matthew 6:24-25 (NLV)

What will you choose?  Will you step into God’s canoe and let him guide you or will you continue to steer your own canoe and expect Him to rescue you at each turn?  The choice is yours to make. 

Every day, I choose His Boat, His Way, and His Life.


  1. What a fabulous lesson, Kristi. LOVE this analogy. So much truth here. Thank you, my friend.

  2. I Have jammed into many, many trees, but I have also spent WAY too much time with my foot in each canoe, and received a few good dunkings as a result! Total surrender.......

    Thanks for the great mental picture, i need to chew on that one today!

  3. I've had a few of those trips to the river... a few of those seasons with God. It all begins with some rain, some trees, and a willingness to steer my own boat. A sure recipe for trouble!

    Great analogy. Have a beautiful day in Jesus.