Years ago, a speaker named Dave shared a story that stuck with me. He and his friend, Pete, worked for a logging company, the details of which are fuzzy to me, but it involved getting logs into a stream. On occasion, for fun, they rode the logs down the stream for a bit. One beautiful lazy day, they lingered on the logs a bit too long and realized they were in rough waters. So rough, in fact, they weren’t confident they could get to shore. Dave asked Pete what he was going to do. Pete, having been a swimmer in college, decided to try for shore. Dave saw that, even with his skill, it was a struggle. He thought, “What am I going to do? I can’t swim that well!” Meanwhile, the water became faster and more turbulent.
Pete ran along shore, encouraging Dave to try to swim. Seeing the danger ahead, Dave made a break for it and paddled as hard as he could for shore. Despite swimming frantically, he got nowhere. Pete ran alongside, shouting at him, though the words were lost in the sounds of frenetic splashing and raging water.
Finally, Dave decided to give up. He could see the rapids ahead. He was a goner. Why fight it? So he went limp. At that moment, he finally heard Pete’s voice. Pete was shouting, “Stand up, Dave! Stand up!”
So Dave stood up and walked to shore.
Whenever I recall this story, I see myself. I see how I frantically try to work to get life in order, to get to solid ground, when all the while it is right there underneath me, if I would only rest in it. God, for some reason, chooses to speak to us in what Elijah experienced as the “gentle whisper.” We can’t hear it when we are scrambling on our own.
This past month, everywhere I look I am reminded that I am someone who tries to overcome the uncertainties of life by grabbing them by the horns and wrestling them to the ground with all my strength. I fight to keep control over situations that are so beyond me, (the spiritual lives of our children, for example) as though if I just try harder I can conquer them. The result is a tense, overworked, overwhelmed soul who fails at being God.
It’s time I went limp.
Anne Lamott says it well, “It helps to resign as the controller of your fate. All that energy we expend keeping things running right is not what keeps things running right.”
God calls us to resign as God, because we are not good at it. He calls us to let go of our frantic ways and trust. Trust that He is our solid rock, our peace, our salvation, our guide. He will keep things running right. We just need to get quiet enough to hear Him.
“In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15