The news a woman killed a 1,000 pound alligator in a SC lake took a bite out of my enthusiasm to go kayaking. I checked the map to see if there were any connecting waterways linking my lake to that one. But the prospect of a warm day bathed in the round yellow light of September triumphed over fears of reptiles.
We launched our boats and set off paddling. I automatically chose a point in the distance to set my course by. That was how my father taught us to drive a boat. He would show us a landmark and tell us to line up the bow with it. The he would go sit in the stern with my mother. It didn't seem as if he were paying attention to how we were driving, but whenever we started to zig-zag, he would holler,"Point the bow toward the hill." I'd glance back at the S-curves in the telltale wake trailing behind us.
Some weekends we'd sleep on the boat. On one such outing, I woke early before anyone else. I looked out the cabin window and saw we were drifting toward shore. Believing the anchor had come undone, I sat in the pilot's seat, picked a tree on the horizon, and turned the wheel toward it. The boat kept twisting and turning, as I, the only one awake and able to save the ship, sat at the helm with my face fixed on a point in the distance.
After a while my father woke up. He watched me for a few minutes before informing me that although the drift gave the illusion we were nearing shore, we were still secure at anchor. (Although he was kind not to mention my efforts were futile because the engine was off,my siblings were quick to so.)
The memory of that experience helps me appreciate the imagery in Luke 9:53. Jesus "was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem." He wasn't deterred, dismayed,or diverted. He understood both the the suffering and the glory, and set His face toward His purpose.
I wish I could claim to always know exactly what to do. To be able to say with courage and conviction, God told me thus and thus. The truth is, some days I circle around on anchor, others, I'm buffeted by waves and distractions. And then I hear my father say,"Point your bow to the landmark."
And I realign my course toward the One who is faithful and true, because I want my Father to look at my wake and say, "yet with respect to the promise of God,[she] did not [zig-zag] in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform" (Romans 4:20).