Monday, June 16, 2008

Kayaking, Abram & God

What does Kayaking, Abram (later named Abraham) and God have in common? Let's see if I can link them together. For 6 months my son, Seth, has been voicing his desire for a kayak on his 7th birthday. There are only a few kayak manufacturers that make specific kid's kayaks. I heard about a family owned company called Jackson's Kayaks. I've been taking Seth canoeing for 2 yrs and he seems to love the water and rapids. We've watched some hardcore whitewater kayakers diving off waterfalls on TV and he said, "Daddy, I'm going to do a waterfall like that one day!" Well, his birthday came and he got his Jackson Fun 1 kayak. I'm still a little hesitant on how he will handle it and the rapids, but I like to provide him opportunities to find out what he likes or dislikes. Not forcing him into what I like or want but providing a safe environment for him to "test the waters" of what life brings. So off we went to a local swimming hole.

In Genesis, God promised Abram that he would be the father of a great nation. "The Lord said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you' " (Genesis 12:1). Many of us do not like to travel anywhere unless we know where we are going. Some of us want to know how long we will be, what we will need, and how we will get there and who will be with us.

Throughout history, God simply doesn't work that way. God has ALWAYS said, "Follow me and I'll show you the way." Jesus continued to work from the same paradigm as he calls a hodgepodge of people to "Follow me. . ." (Matthew 4:19). He went on to say, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20).

However, God promises us that when we do follow, we will be blessed and protected. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:2-3).

Take a few moments and reflect upon your life. Can you truly believe that you are where you are, with who you are with, part of the family you have, doing what you are doing? When we set out in life, we may think we know where we are going but do we really know? When I embarked upon the call into ordained ministry, I never thought I would end up at a Erskine Seminary creating life-long friendships. I never thought I would meet my wife in seminary only to have it end in divorce seven years later. I wasn't keen on having children and never thought I was capable of loving someone as much as love Seth. For he is truly the greatest blessing of my life. I never thought I would be sitting in the Civic Center in Roanoke VA during the VAUMC Annual Conference writing this blog:) Oh yeah, wearing a yellow bike jersey, spandex shorts and white crocs! Hum, more on that later but you can check it out at

As you reflect upon your life, what does it look like? Has it been smooth sailing or full of dangerous rapids? My guess is both! So Seth and I took to the rapids. At first we paddled in the calm waters getting a feel of the new kayak. He would practice rolling out of the kayak, swimming to shore, emptying the water out and hopping back in to do it all over again.

After about an hour of play, he began to look further upstream at some rapids. He felt the call to a bigger and more dangerous path. He didn't want his "trick" kayak to paddle in the flat, calm waters. He wanted the "trick" kayak to descend waterfalls and shoot the big rapids. He wanted a new adventure, not the complacent status quo. I asked if he wanted to try the rapids and he said, "No, they look scary." But he would slowly work his way up stream contemplating the rapids. About thirty minutes later he said, "Daddy, I'm ready. Let's do it."

"So Abram left, as the Lord had told him" (Genesis 12:4).

So up the rapids we went. Seth wasn't strong enough to carry his kayak while wading upstream. So kayak in one hand while Seth held my other hand, we worked our way through the slippery rocks above the rapids. I had a friend help him into the kayak and hold him until I waded downstream to take pictures and prepare for any problems.

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him (Genesis 12:6-7).

Through a long journey, Abram's name was changed to Abraham. He and his wife Sarah had a child very late in life and named him Isaac. But that wasn't the end of their journey. About when Isaac reached maturity, God instructed Abraham to follow unto top of a mountain and sacrifice his son Isaac, literally slay him with a knife upon an altar. Sounds horrible and in one sense maybe so. Abraham trusted God knowing and proceeding to carry out His command. This is cool. Abraham so believed in the power of God that he said, "We (Abraham and Isaac)will worship and then WE will come back to you" (Genesis 22:5). An angel of the Lord stopped Abraham's hand from harming Isaac and then pointed into the thicket towards a lamb to sacrifice (Genesis 22). And Jesus cried out from the cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

Life is much like paddling the rivers. Moreover, we are CALLED to paddle the rivers. Yes, there will be rapids. Yes, there will be times in which the boat will capsize. Yes, there will be times in which storms come and we get scared. However, our Heavenly Father is with us every bit of the way. Just as I provided a safe environment for Seth to learn. God provides those opportunities for us to grow.

So trust your Heavenly Father with your life. Trust Him as you paddle the rapids and He will lead you into the waters of eternal blessings!


Jen said...

What a nice post! Go Seth!!!

Jeremy said...

Well done Rev, I like the comparison. Jeremiah 29:11

Now put a shirt on, please

Diana said...

Fantastic message! I will have to see what a Wolf Scout can get for manning his own Kayak!!!