Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Oars Are Washed Away

A raft am I on the sea of time,
My oars are washed away...
-From the Golden Flute by Sri Chinmoy

A Jobesque opening if there ever was one. "My oars are washed away". Been there? That place where you have rowed all night with still no sight of land? You have done everything in your power, beyond it actually, and still no headway? Fingers frozen to the oars or unable to hold on they slip below the water. How often marriage, motherhood and my job felt like that tiny oarless boat.

I would get up earlier, go to bed later, not wash my hair to save an extra five minutes and would be not one pace further ahead at days end...well, at the place where it was supposed to end. That oarless boat can be a very scary, exhausting place. That oarless place comes when your hands can no longer hold the oars and they fall away, lost in the storm that has consumed the last bit of your strength.

In reading the places in scripture where Jesus interacted with vicious waves and terrified disciples it always ends happily. He wakes up or walks up and makes everything hush up and like magic they are in the place they intended. I often wondered if those stories were placed in the Bible so we would know it was possible to have such an outcome. I, however, have read the passages in between backbreaking strokes, wiping salt spray from my eyes.

I will share this with you. It was an arresting moment for me not long ago. A dear friend was working hard (rowing into the wind) to accomplish a spiritual goal. This was no flight of fancy, God had launched the boat Himself, but up sprang the wind then the waves and no progress as being made. Soon the boat began to take on passengers- fear, doubt, discouragement, you know these nonpaying freeloaders.

My friend was wise however and kept a lookout for Christ. He continued to pray and trust and say hopeful, grateful things and overboard went the freeloaders. There is room for them or for Christ but not both. In time the wind ceased but my friend continued to strain and pull at the oars. At one point he called out to God, "Will I ever get where I am going?"

And God answered.

The Lord let him know his continued rowing was of little use at this time. "Put up your oars. You are in the current now. It will take you where you need to go. There is nothing more you can do."

That is an almost impossible position for many of us who trust in our own strength. The idea of laying the oars across my knees, leaning my head back and just letting go seems almost a sin. Trust and row I can do but just trust...that is a challenge. To become oarless by accident, much less oarless by obedience, goes against my nature.

Such is the point.

My friend is downriver now, nearly there. Jesus has built a small fire on the shore and you can smell the fish cooking, just waiting for the current to carry him on in. He is rested and tanned and hungry.

A funny old song called The Gambler said, "You got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em." I am learning when to row and when to rest. I am such a bad pupil. For me that is the hardest thing. I have great forward gears but hate the "break" pedal. I know that if I fail to acknowledge the current and continue to strain I will lose even the oars and simply be adrift.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2 ESV

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:28-29

When you have done all you reasonably can it may be time to lay your oars across your lap and listen to the water. Let it go. Let Christ, just Christ, be enough in the moment. Release it to Providence.

There is a time to row and a time to rest. Whatever time it is for you or me, Jesus will live with us in that moment empowering, strengthening, loving us- with His hand on the helm.

Fish on the beach with the Savior is too good to miss. It is what matters most.

I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 WEB


  1. I too many times have fought against the current or been too tired to row and just drifted. . .I have laid my oats across my lap & I need to rest. I have given up. He can take over as I should have always let Him. I sent this to my Bryan - i don't want him to always learn the hard way like me. BTW - love the picture of Johnny!

    1. Looks like Johnny was having a better time than the fish!

  2. Oh, do I ever hear you, sister. "Trust and row, I can do. But just trust ..."

    Been there, still there in some respects, trying to trust and rest between waves.

    good post. Blessings to you - Marsha