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  • Pastor Justin

Competitive Kayaking

This was something I found that I had written about 7 years still applies.

I learned something about myself today.  I am a competitive person.  Those who know me may say, “Well, duh!”  But I think my eyes have been opened to just how pathetic I can be.

We are vacationing with my wife’s family on a lake in southern Maine.  Today my wife and I decided to take a kayak trip.  We each got in our kayak and decided to go out and around an island in the lake and then back.  Needless to say I found myself in a competition with my wife as to who was going to be faster.  To make matters worse, she was totally unaware that we were in a brutal competition.  To make matters even worse…I was losing.

She would pull out ahead with nice gentle strokes, then pause and wait for me to catch up.  Meanwhile, I felt like I was dragging a barge behind me.  Row, row, row…only to fall farther behind.  Row, row, row…”I think mine is defective!”  Row, row, row…”am I even moving?”

I changed my sitting position.  I changed the position of the oar.  I changed how the oar entered the water.  I changed how the oar left the water.  I almost threw the oar in the water.

Then about halfway back from the island I realized something, or perhaps it was God showing me something about myself –  I had been in the middle of this amazing lake on a kayak ride with my beautiful wife, soaking up the sun, really at that point having nothing to care about…and I hadn’t been able to enjoy any of it.  It started as competitiveness but quickly moved to frustration at what I thought should be, but wasn’t.  “I should be better than this.”  “How can she be so much better than me?”  “This is embarrassing” (nobody else was even there to care about it – still the feeling was there).

As all of the absurdity of this hit me, I believe God also pointed out that this is the root of much of my frustrations in life and ministry as well.  It is easy to get frustrated with what you know you can’t do and what you perceive that others can.  “If I could only be like him/her, then life would be better.  If only I could do what they can, then all my problems would go away.”  That frustration leads to an inability to enjoy where God has each of us right now.  The funny thing is they are probably feeling similar feelings and someone is probably thinking the same thing about you!

If we look around many of us might realize that God has figuratively placed us on a beautiful lake, soaking in the rays of His sun (Son!).  That’s not to suggest that there will not be times when life is hard and we wish that we were anywhere but where we are, but if God’s word is true then He will not leave us.  He will not abandon us.  In fact, He continually walks with us:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… (Psalm 23:4)

Don’t let the frustration of who you are not or what you can’t do disparage the perfect you that God has created!

By the way, the last time my wife paused to wait for me on the kayak I deftly went right by her to get back to the dock first!  I win!  I win!

Definitely still have some growing to do.

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