It was a glorious summer day in late July 1978. I had spent the better part of an afternoon water skiing with my high school friends, Clair, Steve, Lori, and Kristi. A quintessential day for skiing, the water on Iowa Lake was calm, quiet and smooth as glass.
When the sun began to slip behind the trees lining the west side of the lake, we pulled in the ropes and turned the boat toward the dock. As we headed across the water I looked over at Clair and Steve and saw them putting their life jackets back on.
“Are we going to ski some more?”, I asked.
Clair threw me a life jacket and said, “Put this on.” Clair was two years older and bigger than I was, so I did. He then pointed at Kristi, “You drive the boat.”
As Kristi took her place behind the wheel, Clair tightened the belt on his vest and said, “Here’s what we’re gonna do. When Kristi gets this boat up to full speed, the three of us are going to jump out. It’ll be fun.”
I believed him.
Kristi spun the boat around and jammed the accelerator forward. We were really flying. With a scream, Clair jumped over the edge. Then Steve jumped. Just like Navy commandos in a war film.
Then I jumped.
I hit the water, but I didn’t go in the water. I just bounced and rolled across the top like dice on a card table. When I stopped rolling, I swooshed into the lake. After getting my bearings I looked around and saw Clair and Steve bobbing in the water like a couple of brainless buoys.
Somebody yelled, “Is anybody dead?”
Nobody was dead.
So we got back in the boat and did it again.
When I think about that day on the lake, I can’t help but admit it’s a fitting illustration of how I sometimes handle the fast and frantic pace of life. The quiet waters were there. The calm and the still. But I wasn’t resting beside them. I was bouncing and rolling across the top.
If I’m honest, too often that’s my pattern. I bounce and roll over the top of the quiet waters God leads me to. Those moments of reflection I need for renewal and godly refreshment. Instead of resting beside the still waters, I race past desperately needed solitude with Him.
And even knowing that I’ve bounced and rolled past the quietness God offers me, I get back in my busy boat and do it again.
This is the time of year when we begin to evaluate where we’ve been and where we’d like to go. What we’ve accomplished and what remains to be achieved. Hopefully there are goals fulfilled we can check off our 2008 list. Even if we achieved greatly, it’s likely we have unfinished business to carry into 2009.
As we evaluate and plan, I wonder…
…if we spent less time spent bouncing and rolling out of the busy boat and more time reflecting by the still waters, is it possible we could accomplish more? Better, would more time spent with God beside the still waters help us to accomplish the right things? Would He help us not to confuse activity with productivity? If we spent more time with God, to hear Him and know His heart; is it possible our efforts to achieve would begin to flow from our relationship with Him?
Here’s to less time spent bouncing and rolling. More time spent with God beside the still waters. In spending time with God, we learn who we are in Him. When we know who we are in Him, we understand better what He would have us do for Him.
“…He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.” – Psalm 23
Todd A. Thompson – December 18, 2008