“You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God” ~ Jesus (the Message)
So which way should I go today? I scanned the surface of the lake, reviewing the riffles on the water. The breeze was coming from the northwest, so the northern shore would be calm enough for a leisurely paddle. Pushing off from the dock, I knelt midships, tilting the canoe high enough to pull the keel to be out of the water. Relaxing into rhythmic paddling, I reflected on canoe trips past.
Crossing the larger lakes had always been an adventure – you had a lot of water to cover in a day, and didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the right conditions. Many a time I had dragged myself to shore, exhilarated and exhausted, after a long battle with the elements.
Maybe it was the Tom Sawyer in me, but I also enjoyed the lazy days as we made our ways down winding rivers. It was especially good if the wind was at our backs. We would lash several canoes together, slide our paddles down the edges of large garbage bags, and sail the afternoon away, leaning back in our boats, fingers trailing in the water, daring the fish to nibble.
The longer I am in ministry, the less inclined I am to rage against the prevailing conditions, like Lieutenant Dan from the movie Forrest Gump. I can still see him in my mind’s eye, strapped to the top spar on his shrimp boat during a hurricane, belligerent in battle. Don’t get me wrong – I believe that we need to worship and work with all of our strength, but I’m of the opinion (and age) that we need to work smart, rather than just working hard.
And how do we work smart? We look to see which way the wind is blowing. Jesus pioneered this for us, mapping out the territory. “I only do what I see My Father doing,” He said.
I can tackle a journey of my own design, and expend myself unnecessarily, or I can stop. Look. Listen. Pray. Wait. Discern where God is at work, and then put my oar in the water, with the wind at my back.