Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kayaking Into Smallness

We were in Emerald Isle at the beach enjoying a week of amazing weather, surviving body jarring nautical wipe outs, searching for shark teeth like four leaf clovers, eating crapola galore and watching more TV than any human should be allowed to watch.  It was such glorious indulgence before we return to our year in home schooling and busy schedules involving all fourteen members of our family.

This year we did something different.   We rented for our family two kayaks, one single and one double.  I have had the opportunity to kayak in lakes only to fall hopelessly in love with the hobby / sport.  So much so, that one of my dreams is to own a family's worth of kayaks to ride atop our passenger van in route to all the great lakes around us.  Every time I have kayaked, I have been in awe of the sheer perfect beauty of God's creation.  It is easy to worship inside a kayak on a beautiful lake.  Add a gentle warm rain and salvation can't be too far away.  Really.

If kayaking on a lake was this awesome, then surely kayaking in the ocean would bring on convulsions of worshiping pleasure.  I couldn't wait and I was kept up the night before with visions of levitating into spiritual one-ness with my Creator.  Of course we can not forget the soulful whale songs that would surround me as I reach my hands towards heaven in absolute surrender to His beauty.  Don't look at me like that, could happen.

The waves had calmed from the previous day and were beckoning with promised gentleness.  My son decided to accompany me and was able to bypass the the breaking waves with ease into calmer waters.  I was salivating and started my first experience of ocean kayaking by gracelessly dragging my kayak into the water.  It was then that I looked up to see that my son had paddled himself right into the middle of a pod of about twenty dolphins.  Within the first two minutes, my son was having an experience for which some people wait a lifetime.  Unbelievable.  Overcome with amazement and jealousy, I whooped and jumped up and down like an over zealous football fan.  This was enough to thoroughly embarrass my flesh and blood near by.

Still lugging the kayak through the breaking waves, I decide I had an opening to hop in the kayak and paddle like mad.  I should have decided differently as a rogue wave came out of nowhere and pummeled the crap out of the kayak.  This sent me flying only to have the kayak narrowly miss my head.  Regaining my composure, but looking disheveled and inexperienced, I continued to act as if I knew what I was doing. I finally make it through the waves and jump into the kayak with the finesse of a penguin jumping belly first from water to ice.  In other words, no awards would be handed out for grace.  I paddled into a stillness that there are no words to explain but I will lamely attempt to anyway.

What I thought would send me into a peaceful spiritual revival, sent me into a sense of vulnerability that snuck up and stole my breath and courage.  Maybe I would not have felt this had I been with others braver than I.  I was completely alone as my son had gone back to shore.  I could see my children in the distance playing on the shore with no noise except for the slapping and gurgling of the water on the side of my craft.  And like a breathing giant, the ocean heaved me slowly up and down.  The only feeling I can compare this to, is the feeling of hanging my bare butt over a dank porta-potty hole in Mexico.  I just never knew if there was a poop eating Sasquatch hiding out in the sludge hole that could potentially come up and make a meal out of my rear.  If you haven't picked up on it yet, I was feeling vulnerable and very unsettled.  And in all honesty, watching the movie JAWS at the ripe age of eight did nothing to help matters.  The vastness of what I was paddling into was overwhelming.  There was never a time that there wasn't an urge to turn the kayak around and head back home.  Thoughts of the unknown below me kept me vigilant.  Anything as big, or bigger than me, that had the least bit of interest in my h'orderve-like shape, could come and "tap" me out of my vessel of false safety.  I felt so small and there would be no lifting up of hands praising my Creator as I had fantasized the night before.  Not that He did not deserve's just this side of Him instilled in me such immense respect and fear. If this vast ocean is only one of the things He created, then what must He be like?  This ocean in which I was floating was oozing with power.  I was but a flake of fish food on the surface of something so great.  I now have an inkling as to why people die when in God's presence.  It's just too much.   And with this thought, I stiffly paddled further out trying to shake off the fear and the feelings of such tininess.  I was being ridiculous., no I wasn't.

And I turned the kayak around and headed back to the shore where my life was tethered,  now knowing that I really had no idea or concept of how great and powerful our God really is.  It took me floating alone on one tiny drop of His creation to realize that I have severely limited Him in my life with my intellectual and emotional understanding of who He is. And the biggest mystery that will always plague me is why, as awesome and powerful as He is, He should have such interest and love for mankind......much less, for me.

 I would venture out a total of three more times in the kayak, and wipe out another four, just for the sheer thrill of repeatedly freaking myself out.  I feel the disturbing stirrings of a potential adrenalin junkie.   This was better than any bible study or was a real physical experience of even the tiniest part of who God is....and an unsettling realization of how much smaller I am compared to what I once thought.  It is sobering to know that the very foamy fringes, the weakest part of this great expanse of water, can lay me out flat in one surge.  To be honest, at times, I struggle to find any worth at all in my "grain of sand" like existence. 

And it is here that I cling to His words, for it I don't, I have nothing at all..

Matthew 10: 29-31
 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Psalm 139:1-4
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 1:25
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.