My wife and I recently attended the 50th anniversary celebration of Cran-Hill Ranch. Begun as a ministry of the Reformed Churches in Michigan it has transformed thousands of lives over the years. The ranch is important to us for a lot of reasons – the top reason being it is the place we met. We were on staff the very first summer it opened – 50 years ago. (Yes – we were really young then!) Planning for and celebrating the anniversary brought back many precious memories. One was of the time we spent an overnight there for a brief get away. We knew we couldn’t head for home without spending some time in a canoe. So we rented a canoe and paddled across and around the lake.
That’s when Barb threw out the challenge: “There must be something here for your Pikkup Notes” (the title of my weekly church blog). Of course my mind froze – it doesn’t get clever under pressure! Nothing registered. Besides, I just wanted to enjoy the beautiful day, outstanding weather, and the spectacular surroundings of the camp and lake. Why spoil it by heating up my mental cells? We went there, after all, to take a break from working and thinking – to relax.
But the fuse was lit. Barb knows me too well. She knew something would spark and begin to burn. And it did. At several points we just sat in the canoe, paddles at rest, trying to capture the quietness and peace. Each time we did so I – sitting in the back as the designated driver in charge of steering – had to resume paddling before we drifted too far into the lily pads or swamp area. Otherwise we ran the risk of getting stuck. And that’s when the spark lit the fire. As long as we paddled we controlled our direction and pace; we determined where we went. But with no rudder or anchor we were at the mercy of the current. With no rudder or anchor we would end up going with the flow, no matter where the flow would take us.
James actually said the same thing centuries ago. When it comes to determining direction in life, he said “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” (James 1:3-5 New Living Translation) To go in the right direction, pray – but pray anchored in trust. Without trust, we’re like a tossing wave – or a rudderless, anchor-less canoe. With no rudder or anchor we are at the mercy of the current.
Maintaining the right direction, steering the straight course through life, has become very difficult. Our culture and our media hit us with gale force winds, trying to steer us towards their ideals, goals, and philosophies for life. And with no rudder or anchor, we’re at the mercy of the current. So it is important, critically important, that we have a strong rudder and heavy anchor – a rudder that will help us steer the right course and an anchor that will enable us to stand firm against those opposing gale force winds.
The Good is that Jesus Christ is our anchor and rudder, for He is anchored to God Himself. “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20 NLT) Or as The Message puts it, “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.”
When it’s hard to stay headed in the right direction, the way grows confusing, the road ahead is dark, the winds of the world blow with hurricane force remember: With no rudder or anchor we are at the mercy of the current. But Jesus knows the way. Stay anchored to Him. Let Him steer your life. Follow Him. He is, after all, “The way, the truth, and the life.” Happy canoeing!