Chaos and Peace: Part II
I remember it quite well: the two or three foot drop over the edge of the hole, the front of my kayak hitting the pile of churning water recirculating upstream, then I was upside down. As I had been taught I tucked forward to allow my kayak, helmet, and PFD to do their job of protecting me from rocks that I may or may not bump into down there. I set my paddle up to be ready to try and to roll myself upright after I felt the hole spit me out. I can still feel the aerated water running forcefully around me as I was being recirculated. The current felt oddly warm across my face. I waited, resisting the urge to pull my skirt and opt for swimming for it.
Then the strangest thing happened. Suddenly the world brightened and I found myself upright floating down stream of the hole I had just been inside of. A friend floating nearby cheered. But I hadn’t done anything to roll myself back up. The hole had spat me out upright with no effort on my part. It was the last thing I had expected.
I have continued kayaking since that time. My skill has grown and in that I have purposely dove my kayak into holes twice or even four time the size of the hole I hit that day.(Note: DON’T purposely go into holes on any river unless a skilled river guide tells you it is safe. There are holes out there that are extremely dangerous, that will literally not let you go.) But I will never forget that day, the novice kayaker that I was, nerves strung tight, missing my line, hitting that hole, then suddenly finding myself upright. Through that experience I have seen this truth. No matter the context, no matter the chaos, God has got me. Holes don’t usually spit kayakers out upright. “I’ve got you,” are the words that ring clearly to me through that experience.
I wonder if that same knowledge was some of what allowed Jesus to sleep in the midst of that storm; the knowledge that God “had him”. I have longed for Him to speak the words, “Peace! Be still!” into chaotic circumstances in my life. I think of the calm of the sea after Jesus’ words in that story and want like the disciples for the sea to be made calm. Then I think, was real peace perhaps more inside the midst of the chaos of that night than afterward; Jesus sleeping in the middle of the storm? After the storm was calmed you don’t see the disciple’s hearts at peace. They was still fear there. Our Lord prayed before his death not that we would be taken out of the world like I have at times wanted, but that we would be kept from the evil one. So then I have this prayer:
Father, I ask not that you take us out of this chaos,
but that you open our eyes to see that You are good,
and that we are kept,
and that in that truth we may know your peace.
Kayaking is a place I am free to step into environments of chaos and practice His peace. I am kept out there. I am reminded that He is good. I have told myself, “Challen, never stop kayaking.” I hope I never have to. But if I do that is ok. What I am telling myself by those is words is to never forget to rest in the truth that God is good, and that he keeps me. In this world I will have trouble. Our Lord himself said that. The chaos will not cease. But in in the midst of this I pray, “God, keep me in your peace.”
Never Stop Kayaking.