I have a vice. I know, this is probably not a good thing to admit, but it is true. I love to paddle. Canoes or kayaks, it really doesn’t matter. If the weather is nice, I have no problems dropping just about anything to hit the water. I love the adventure of not knowing for sure what is around that next bend in the river. I love the challenge of seeing that shore on the other side of the lake and pushing to see how fast I can get there. I love the feeling of tired arms and cold water.
Mostly, I love these things in solitude, but my children have begun to show interest. The funny thing is that not only are they enjoying this pastime, but I am also enjoying their company. I enjoy showing them things that they can’t know on their own. I enjoy teaching them new skills and showing them those mysterious and wonderful things of God that we pass along the way.
Last summer took our canoe out for quick evening trip. I began to show them how to look for safe passage through rock-strewn rivers. I tell them, “Always look for the down river pointing V. The V will tell you where the hidden rocks are and where you have a clear path. Just go where the V points.” My oldest child has picked up on this and is quite good at pointing out the V. She is also learning how to paddle, and loves to show me what she can do. As I give her instruction, she tries it out and then will inevitably say, “You give really good tips Dad. You really know how to do this.” I love to hear that. I also love it that she wants to know what I know, and emulate what I do.
But here’s the catch. I don’t need her to point out the V. I can see them just fine. In fact, I can spot them more clearly than she. I don’t need her to paddle either. I’m a strong paddler, and I can propel all of us to our destination under my own strength. In fact, when she paddles, we go more slowly because her technique is not good, she is not strong, and she hasn’t grown into her paddle.
However, none of this matters to me because I don’t take her with me so she can help me make my goals more effectively. I will reach my destination just fine without her. I take her because I want her to be with me on the journey. I want to see her face when she learns something new. I want to see her grow and experience the thrill of a destination reached.
This is life with Jesus. God has a salvation plan for this world. His Kingdom is established in the hearts of his people through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and someday we will see the Kingdom in all of its real, physical glory when Jesus returns to dwell among us. Between now and then, there is a journey, and we are each being invited to enter into it with Jesus. We are told that to begin this journey, we must first acknowledge that the trip we’ve been on is not the one God meant for us to take. We must repent of the sin of mapping out the course of our lives without any input from the one who breathed life into us. We must repent of the rebellion that keeps God at a distance. We must admit our need and accept His deep grace.
We then begin into this new journey in and toward the Kingdom of God. We are traveling to that place where Jesus rules the hearts of people, and this world is restored. But here’s the catch. Jesus doesn’t need us to paddle in order to reach his destination. He knows where he is going, and he just wants us along side for the ride for the joy of learning to paddle like him. He desires that we know him and He wants to know us, but he doesn’t need us to accomplish his purposes. He wants us to enjoy our journey with him. When we see him and ourselves clearly, we can marvel at his skill. We strive to live well out of admiration for our Savior. We want to live like Jesus.