|Photo by Tripjodi 2011|
As the old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
That came to mind as my husband Richard and I, at our relatively advanced stage of life, attempted our first foray into kayaking. Our son and daughter-in-law had enjoyed it during their recent stay at the beach, and we had found a great sale on an inflatable kayak, so what could possibly go wrong?
Day 1: Having pumped up the questionably seaworthy, bright yellow vessel, Richard christened it the “Banana Boat.” We dragged it over to the dock, but the lagoon level was considerably below it, and Richard was leery of lowering himself into the seemingly unstable craft. And he fretted over the barnacles he believed were all along the dock’s underwater supports, which could easily jab a hole into the kayak, or even worse, our feet.
So we hoisted it to our shoulders, carried it across the road, over the footbridge to the Gulf of Mexico, and some distance down the beach, away from prying eyes of sunbathers who might find our inexperience a fruitful source for jokes at our expense. All this carrying turned out to be more difficult than expected while we were encumbered in ill-fitting life vests and juggling paddles.
Undeterred, we positioned the kayak parallel to the shore, tentatively got in the shallow water, and attempted to push off with the paddles, only to find that the rudder beneath the boat was stuck in the sand! After many futile attempts to get afloat, we silently braved the “walk of shame” back to the shed, where we stored the kayak for another, hopefully better time.
Day 2: At least now we knew to bypass the dock/lagoon misadventure and headed directly to the Gulf, Banana Boat aloft on our shoulders. It seemed the perfect day for kayaking – sunny, not too warm, calm currents. Or so we thought. We actually got afloat, now having learned to embark in slightly deeper water, and to turn the kayak perpendicular to the shore once we got in. But Richard had trouble paddling, as the inflatable seat did not support his back sufficiently for him to maintain an upright position.
After we travelled only about 6 feet, the once calm waves seemed to roughen and crest, threatening our journey. So we turned back to shore, where a wave crashed over the side before we could get out, splashing our faces and filling up the kayak. We made a hasty retreat on our knees before we could stand up, only to repeat the “walk of shame” past the beachcombers.
Day 3: Richard had found a discarded circular Styrofoam cooler – just the right size, shape and lightness to insert behind his seat so he could row upright. Perfect weather once again, with the sea waters calm as silk, bordered in frothy, lacy foam along the shoreline. We embarked without incident and headed out to sea! But our pride deflated a little when a middle-aged woman passing by called out nervously, “Would you like me to give you a push?”
“No, we’re good, thanks!” Richard replied. And we were! Miraculously, with no effort at all, we paddled out to a suitable depth where the surf was even calmer, and turned Banana Boat 90 degrees so we could row along the coastline.
What an amazing new perspective that gave us! We had walked by the beach cottages and enjoyed the coastline before, but now we could take it all in at once and felt more a part of it, warmed by the sun sparkling on the ocean yet cooled by the gentle breeze, moved by it as if we were osprey soaring on the wind.
Suddenly we spotted a black fin ahead and to the left of us. Thankfully, this was a dolphin and not a shark! We stopped rowing in amazement, savoring the moment, as not 6 feet away from us a pair of dolphins surfaced and began frolicking around us, emerging and submerging beneath the waves.
It made me think of my spiritual and prayer life, how even when I seem to approach quiet time with the right intentions, the peace I crave eludes me. Satan knows that once believers are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), that prayer is one of the most powerful weapons in our spiritual arsenal (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
God can accomplish far more through His saints as they pray than we can by attempting to fight the enemy in our own flesh, for without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), prayerfully put on each piece of God’s armor (Ephesians 6:18), and be anxious about nothing, for we can bring all our prayer requests to the Lord (Philippians 4:6), Who knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8,32; 7:11).
Jesus Himself habitually began the day in prayer, coming away to a desert place (Luke 4:42; 9:10), where He drew the strength, peace and wisdom to accomplish His Father’s will (Luke 22:42). He was perfect, tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), so I imagine He overcame the distractions and obstacles that so often hinder my prayer life.
Some days I intend to pray and yet can’t even seem to find a suitable place or time, like the difficulty we encountered on Day 1 when we couldn’t even get afloat. Other days I plunge into prayer, yet soon find myself washed up on the shore of daily life, battered by the waves of life’s real and imagined crises, as on Day 2 when our sea cruise ended abruptly before it even began.
Yet we must not give up on our prayer life. If we try, try again, we will soon find that we need do nothing to work toward the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), the reassurance that God is faithful (Revelation 3:14) and keeps all His promises (Titus 1:2), and the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12), for He does it all. If we surrender to His will and way, He will bear us aloft on the current of His Spirit to reach heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 2:6).
May we not grow discouraged in prayer (Galatians 6:9), but earnestly seek His face (1 Chronicles 16:11; 2 Chronicles 7:14) and listen for His voice for the blessings and guidance we need (1 Kings 19:12). He desires fellowship with His children (1 Corinthians 1:9), and if we try, try again to know Him better, He will faithfully reward us by revealing Himself, His wisdom, and His plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29; Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8).
In these divine appointments, we need not try at all, for Christ has done it all through His finished work on the cross (John 19:30; Hebrews 12:2). We can be confident that once He has started a good work in us, He will bring it to fruition (Philippians 1:6) as we yield to Him!
© 2021 Laurie Collett