My family absolutely loves nature and the great outdoors. That is, we like watching creation in action on NatGeo Wild from the squishy cushions of our sofa.
We will, from time to time, leave our climate-controlled home to personally meet God’s critters at various zoos or nature preserves. We enjoy holding and snuggling them as long as they are creatures not slathered in self-generating slime, covered with scales, have more than four legs, and don’t smell bad. Essentially, we like mammals. Stuffed animals are our favorite.
A Kayak Adventure
So when my brother invited my family out to spend a day kayaking, fishing, and creature hunting on Tampa Bay, I enthusiastically said yes. We love nature! Especially if that means we get to buy new shoes suitable for the excursion. My kiddos really liked picking out Jibbitz for their new Crocs.
Finally, the day of the kayaking adventure arrived. My two girls weren’t overly enthused about a day of fishing, but they were mildly amused at wearing their new shoes and choosing the color kayak they would be riding in. My two boys entertained themselves on the shore hunting for clams, hermit crabs, and other miscellaneous items that would be sure to weird their sisters out when shoved close to their faces.
Properly loaded with snacks, drinks, and fishing gear, the kayaks were ready to host the young adventurers. Half-strangled in ill-fitted life vests that did not coordinate well with anyone’s outfit, we proudly splashed our paddles in the water allowing the current to guide our haphazard fleet to toward Tampa Bay.
Breaking free of the mangrove-lined channel, we reached the clear waters of the bay. The kids were captivated with nature so close. Our hosts would point out various fish and crabs that could be seen in the shallow water as we navigated our boats to a spot suitable for fishing and exploring. With the kayaks securely anchored, my four children scrambled out with adventurous spirits to explore the shallow water.
Now a foot of water is not terribly daunting for full-grown adults; but for my youngest two children whose little legs still aren’t long enough to help them reach all the shelves in the refrigerator, that much water with a mild current made them stagger around like the obnoxious uncle at an open bar. Soon my little two were tipping over and grabbing onto whatever they could reach for support.
Unfortunately for my youngest daughter, as she latched onto a kayak to regain her balance, the kayak did what boats do best: drift. So there she was. A panicked little girl losing her balance trying to stay upright by grabbing onto the most solid thing she can see – a kayak that drifts away from her the harder she clings to it. Soon she was bent over double, desperately clinging to a boat with her feet sinking deeper into the sandy ocean floor. The screams were so loud the sea slugs were jamming sand fleas into their ear holes to block out the sound.
Like thunder breaking overhead, my husband’s voice broke through the shrieking panic. “Hold onto me! I will not move.”
There stood strong, steady daddy: arm outstretched with a hand ready to hold my little girl. There was my little girl: screaming, crying, scared to let go of the kayak even though the kayak was failing her.
Hold on to God
Then God took the story unfolding before my eyes and sent a message straight to my heart. “Hold onto me. I will not move.” How many times do I hold onto things that are as unsteady as a kayak drifting in open water? How many “drifting kayaks” do I grab onto to find security? If my husband makes enough money, we won’t struggle. If I can hang onto my youth and slim figure, I will secure happiness and confidence. If I feed my children all the right foods, they will never get sick. If I can be a perfect mother, I will grow up perfectly wonderful children. Right?
The book of I Samuel gives us a glimpse into the private life of a woman named Hannah. For years she struggled with the heartache of an empty cradle. To make matters worse, she shared her husband with a second wife who was blessed with the ability to conceive many children (and this second wife made sure to brag about this fact to Hannah at every opportunity).
But Hannah knew where to go with her grief and hurt and struggle. She fell on her knees before the Lord, her Rock and Comfort. The Lord heard Hannah’s plea and granted her the blessing of children. In her joy, Hannah triumphantly praises the Lord saying, “’There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.’” (I Samuel 2:2)
In all of life’s uncertainties, Hannah knew what she needed to cling to. She knew of a rock that would never move and never fail her. Her prayer reminds me of where I need to go when the shadows of life threaten to overwhelm me or the waves of uncertainty knock me off course.
Life promises us nothing. Children eating gluten-free, organic, vegan diets sometimes get cancer. Awesome parenting does not always prevent rebellious teenagers. Pretty faces and flat stomachs do not guarantee self-satisfaction and loyal husbands. Financial wealth does not push back loneliness and unhappiness. These “kayaks” in life are unsteady.
I have found that God often uses this journey of motherhood to breathe life into the black and white words I read in my Bible. It is a constant, refining process. So on a day that I was expecting to enjoy watching my children explore nature, my Heavenly Father reminded me to hold onto him no matter how unsteady life gets. “’Do not tremble, do not be afraid…Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.’” (Isaiah 44:8) God will not move. Cling to this truth today.
About the Author:
Heather was an imaginative, competitive tomboy growing up in the city of Miami. She spent many barefoot days with her younger brother hunting dinosaurs, building forts, transforming robots, and sending Barbie on archeological digs. In 2000, Heather not only married the most handsome man in the church choir, but also graduated with a degree in elementary education from the University of Miami. Since graduation, Heather has had the privilege of working with children from all across the world in the melting-pot city of Miami as well as homeschooling her two girls and two boys. Heather is currently working on a devotional book for boys teaching them what it looks like to be a godly hero in her new home of Indian Trail, NC. When she’s not driving one of her children somewhere in her apple-red minivan, you can probably find Heather sneaking treats to her daughters’ guinea pigs or curled up on the sofa with a good book.