It’s windy. So windy. And has been for days. Sustained winds of 20mph and gusts of 35 or more. 24/7. Literally. I love to sleep with the windows open, but the noise of the wind and the blowing of the drapes defies my desires.
On many an evening recently, from our vantage point on the lake, we’ve watched novice kayakers struggle against the waves, their lack of experience clear as the wind pushes them further and further west. “Go west, young man,” they used to say. Only these guys’ destination was east.
This past weekend was supposed to have been the Windsurfing Regatta, held here annually on Lake Okabena. The second weekend in June was chosen as the ideal date to hold the event, when the winds and the weather averaged perfectly to present sailors and spectators both with idyllic sailing and viewing conditions. This year would have challenged the heartiest of participants, I think, but, like so many other events in this weird COVID world, the event had to be cancelled. “Postponed”, they said actually, for a year, with all the participants rescheduling for 2021. But “cancelled” is what it amounts to in the short-term. Another destination missed.
Sometimes we aim for something – an event, a location – and we hit it smack-dab. Front and center. Bulls eye. Other times we take aim but end up – whether by our own fault or by things beyond our control – missing the mark entirely.
My mom flew into Edinburgh, Scotland, many years ago, intending to meet up with her sister for a long weekend. Their parents grew up in Scotland, so this was going to be fun. A reunion not just with each other but with their roots.
Mom’s flight was delayed out of Germany. She missed her connection, arrived hours late. Her sister was nowhere to be found. Mom, having left all of the planning to her, had no idea where to meet her. In a series of near misses that would have been funny in a movie but weren’t at all in real life, Mom spent the entire weekend alone. There were no cell phones. Phone messages left back home went unheard as no one was there to receive them. Her destination was reached…but it wasn’t the destination she’d hoped for at all.
Point of fact: sometimes the wind blows us off course.
Point of mind: sometimes we get where we’re going but it’s not at all what we wanted it to be.
So what do we do then? What do we do when, despite our best efforts, we wind up at the wrong end of the lake? What do we do when, despite our success, we find that our reached goals aren’t all that we expected them to be?
What do we do, in short, when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would? When we planned, and maybe even prayed, yet still we beat against the wind? Do we panic? Do we pray all the more? Do we give up, throw in the towel, hop on the next flight home?
I suppose the answers to those questions are innumerable. But here’s what I witnessed out on the lake:
Those poor people – I don’t know their age or their gender or anything about them – when they found themselves out in the middle of the lake, being shoved by the wind in the opposite direction that they wanted to go, tried, ineffectually, to paddle. They waved their paddles about in a frantic “X” motion for a while until they realized that nothing they were doing was working. Then, finally, they sat back, reevaluated the direction of their boat in relation to the waves, rethought their paddling methods, worked out the kinks, and got back on course despite the wind working against them. They came safely into harbor, sorer and wiser than they were before they got themselves into that boat. Were they scared out there in the middle of the lake? Probably. Were they off schedule and out of sorts? Possibly. But they got themselves to safety.
Or, you can be like my mom in Scotland, all alone, all those years ago. She explored. She did a little shopping. She bought herself a kilt in the Fraser family tartan. She made the most of it. She did not want to be there by herself and she did not enjoy her trip as she thought she would, but she did not waste her time sitting alone in a hotel room, feeling sorry for herself. She got back on the plane at the end of the weekend wiser than she was three days before. Was she scared being there alone? Probably. (I can guarantee you that she did a lot of praying.) Was she disappointed and out of sorts? Possibly. But she chose to go out and see the city and it remains the only time she’s ever been able to visit the land of her ancestors.
Our family Fraser tartan.
Life leads us on a merry chase sometimes. We can panic when it leads us into danger. We can throw a fit when it leads us into disappointment. Or we can sit back. Evaluate. Experiment. Explore.
And, in all of that, in all our decisions and promotions and set-backs, we keep on praying.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:1-6 NIV
Even a twisted path can lead us straight to God.