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Who’s Paddling?

Lord, Your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.
Your faithfulness is for all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands firm.
Psalm 119:89-90 (HCSB)


Series: The Breadcrumb Trail

Canoeing. What a relaxing activity—unless you are the one sitting in front. You see, the one in the front must relinquish all control regarding steering, stopping, turning – you get the picture. When both people in the canoe fight to dominate this position, all kinds of chaos can (will) arise. I know this from experience. My husband and I went on a camping trip many years ago with another couple and we unanimously decided to take a little trip down the river. This is where it went south quickly—the paddle war.

I readily celebrate my husband is the stronger of the two of us. For everything requiring heavy lifting or moving, I am grateful to release the responsibility to him. However, on this hot summer day, I thought I should be the one in charge of the canoe. I was determined to take control, even though my husband snatched the seat in the back. There cannot be two captains of the same boat, thus it was the shortest canoe trip in the history books. 

I share this simple story with you as my honest confession to a time in my life that I trusted more in my own abilities than I did in anyone else’s—including the Lord’s. My friends and I joke about who in our circle is a control freak, but if we look closely, we all have moments like this. We want things done “our” way, we hold on too tightly to our systems, and we get angry when we cannot control the surrounding circumstances. What we don’t see is that this “need” to control oozes into all areas of our life. We want to trust God to move mountains for us, while we are busy shoveling more dirt onto the pile every time we choose our plan over His. How do we let go of this desire and allow God to show us a better way? Do you believe God’s way is better? Or are you like me, a woman who had to step back and draw close to Jesus to be able to see the boat I was steering was headed for disaster?

Throughout scripture, God has sprinkled breadcrumbs for us to discover His sovereignty and show His faithfulness in our lives. But we can’t trust someone we don’t know, and there is only one way to know God, and that is through His word. In Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) we read: 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

When we are in a constant state of trying to control everything, it can be a sign that we are not fully trusting God. This is when we need to look back and remember the time (or times) when God’s goodness was so vivid in our lives that we cannot deny it was Him. We need to recall His hand on those around us, friends, co-workers, even strangers who share their stories with us. These accounts strengthen our faith and help us stand firm on the Word and promises of God. 

A few years ago, a close relative was in a deep depression regarding her job search. The Covid virus had caused many companies to freeze hiring, and she was left in the trenches trying to achieve her independence while feeling stuck with no real option to move forward. When God moved what I thought was an insurmountable hill, I rejoiced and gave thanks to Him immediately! I remember writing a prayer of thanksgiving in my prayer journal. He answered. God is good—this was all I could think!

Before the end of that week, the company took back the offer, due to reorganization of staffing. My heart sank, my mind raced, searching for solutions to help take the pain of this loss away. How did this happen? How can “I” fix this? What more could I do to deserve an answer to this prayer? How quickly my joy faded into despair. 

I put my Bible on the shelf. In that moment I was so angry that God reneged on our deal. I knew I loved Him; I felt like I trusted Him fully, and for crying out loud, my job was sharing Jesus with women. How could He fail me and what would happen to my family member who finally saw a light at the end of a gloomy tunnel? I remember telling my closest friends not to send me Bible verses because I knew them all, and I didn’t need the reminders. And in that dark place, what I heard was, “My grace is sufficient.” This verse resonated over and over in my head and I realized I may have never fully understood the magnitude of His grace. I let go of my anger and remembered how He delivered me from my own bad choices so many times. I scooped up my Bible, and I turned to verses that helped me in the past when I waited upon the Lord to rescue me or someone I love. 

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2 NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

In the scriptures, I reread the story of Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery. His life could have been tragic, but God used every bit of Joseph’s experiences for good. God could do the same for us. And He did. Within one week of that horrible phone call extinguishing her dreams, she was offered a position with another company that was more beneficial for her than she could have ever imagined. She moved forward and still is. Hallelujah! What we saw was defeat and disappointment and God turned it for so much good! His provision—His plan. 

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

When life shakes you up and you feel lost, or off course, you have two choices. You can fight the battle alone or you call upon Jesus’ name for direction. We may not see what lies around the corner, but with God leading, we can trust the plan. Let go of the paddle and let Him steer your canoe. No matter how deep or muddy those waters get, He will be there with you. 

Holding Fast to Hope,


Scripture References: Psalm 119:89-90; Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 91:2; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Genesis 37-50; Isaiah 43:2


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