That Sinking Feeling

It doesn’t take much to sink a boat.  All you need is a hole and some water.  Speaking from experience, I can tell you the rest will take care of itself.

One summer, while on vacation at my in-laws’ cabin in the Smoky Mountains, I sneaked out at dawn for a covert kayak ride.   It was covert because if my wife woke up, she would have made me go shopping at an outlet mall, but I had no time for that.  I had a date with the untamed wilderness.   You see, a few years back I had fished this particular red kayak out of the rain-swollen river, a fact my in-laws had conveniently forgotten.   Now they thought of it as their kayak.  I had never even had the chance to take it for a ride, but all that was about to change.

It started beautifully.  I shoved off, sliding effortlessly into the current, swept away by the power of the mountain stream.  I floated along, drinking in the serenity of the morning, watching the banks come to life with rabbits and squirrels.  A beaver swam past me, its mouth stuffed with branches, and it scampered out on a log to add another wing to his house.    

After thirty of the most relaxing minutes of my life, I figured I’d better head back before Christy called in the park rangers to track me down.   Outlet shopping waits on no man.   When I tried to turn the kayak around, though, I realized something was wrong.  It was hard to paddle, really hard.   And was it just my imagination or was the water creeping up on the edge of my boat?  This was not a good sign. 

I knew if I didn’t take action fast, I’d go down with my ship.  I wasn’t exactly Leonardo DiCaprio clinging to the wreckage of the Titanic, but I did not want to sink this boat.    How would I explain it to my in-laws?  I’d be the laughing stock of every holiday.  Boat Boy.  Captain Stubing.   Davey Jones.  I’d never live it down. 

So I hopped into the icy  river and dragged the kayak to the bank where I discovered it had taken on so much water I could barely haul it out of the stream.  Once I’d managed to wrestle it to shore, I flipped it over, drained the water and found the big, fat hole under its belly.  If I’d gone another ten minutes downstream, it would have been submarine city for sure.

Ever get that sinking feeling in your day-to-day life?  At first glance everything seems to be going great, but then subtle signs creep in, warning of trouble ahead.  You’re generally an honest person but you find yourself telling “little white lies” to avoid conflict.  You start each morning dreading your day.  Your job feels harder than it used to.  Everything feels harder.  Then, when you get home from work, your patience wears thin with your family. 

Our lives are like my river adventure.  We can cruise along completely oblivious to the fact that we might have some major problems below the surface of everyday life.  In the short term life looks fine, but underneath, we’re taking on water and headed for a slow, inevitable disaster.

The Bible says that the purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but those who have insight draw them out.  The problem is that most of us never stop long enough to check out what’s really going on in our hearts.  Most of our lives are so full of activity that we just keep going until it’s too late. 

The affair.  The addiction.  The ugly fight.     

So many shipwrecked lives could be avoided if only we’d take the time to stop and ask God to show us what’s going on in our hearts.  Why am I so angry all the time?  Why am I anxious?  Why does this temptation look appealing?  Where is this negative attitude coming from?  

When we come to Him, God patiently reveals the leaks, the holes that only He can repair.   God longs to provide us with health for our souls.   He wants to mend the cracks in our hearts, the wounds, the regrets, the mistakes.  He wants to make us seaworthy for the journey ahead.

So today if have that sinking feeling, that things in your life just aren’t right, stop, pull ashore and ask God to help you find the leaks.  It’s not hard to sink a boat, but it’s even easier to sink a life.  Thankfully, though, we have a Master Craftsman who loves us, who knows how we are made and can make us whole again.

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