I will sail my vessel
’Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I’ll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
’Til the river runs dry
Everyone’s in the process of moving through life in time and space, getting a little older, and hopefully a little wiser.
I like to think of life as a river and we’re all traveling in the direction of its current. (No intentional reference to my surname. Nuh-uh, none at all.) When we’re born we traverse the river thanks to the guidance and protection of our parents or guardians. And it’s a pretty sweet deal. They handle all the navigating, all the paddling, the breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the changing of diapers, and we — as infants — get to sit back and enjoy the ride.
As we grow, we learn how to sit up, take in our surroundings, and little by little we develop the habits to keep us safe and the practices to avoid — always wear your life preserver, don’t lose your paddle, and never lean out of the canoe while shooting rapids, and don’t lose your paddle — in short, a plethora of skills to aid us on our lifelong journey down the river.
Eventually, we learn how to best use our paddle in different types of water, and we begin to maneuver our own canoe, hopefully without crashing into rocks. And if we’ve been paying attention, we learned what to do if we should strike a glancing blow at a boulder or momentarily lose our paddle.
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. –John F. Kennedy
In time, and with practice, we refine the skills necessary to maneuver our dugout through the waters alone, shoot the rapids without incident, and upright ourselves when we capsize. We learn what to do in thunderstorms, calm waters, and when we encounter the occasional bear.
The thing is, we’re constantly moving forward. We always have the option to pause and head to the shore for a respite or climb on a rock when we need to regroup, but the river is still moving forward. And so are we.
Flowing with the Go Is NOT Passively Moving Through Life–
With this analogy of life as a river, the concept of flowing with the go is pretty easy to grasp. Just as there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do on the water, there are certain things that are not good courses of action in life.
Choosing to kick back in a canoe for an extended period of time and allowing the current to take you wherever it will is never a good strategy as doing so can lead to disastrous consequences. The same principle holds true in life. To go through daily activities with no regard for circumstance or consequence is reckless at best. But hey, we’ve all got to paddle our own canoe.
Each incident in life — and on the river — no matter how insignificant it may seem, is an opportunity to prepare for what lies ahead.
Flowing with the Go Is–
Realizing that God is fully aware and in control of everything.
If we take my analogy further, everything was designed by and created by God. He determined when I would be born, who my parents would be, my physical attributes, my gender, my race, personality, mental abilities, physical impairments and aptitudes, and he knows the events that will unfold in my life.
God knows what’s going on with everything even when I don’t have a clue what’s going on and especially in those moments when I think I do. In my limited “wisdom” — and I use the term loosely — I am only privy to a small amount of information about any situation. I don’t know the reasons why people do what they do, nor do I understand the circumstances that allow for certain things to take place and for others to never reach fruition.
God has my best interests at heart.
Most of us have been blessed to have a select number of people in our lives who have our best interests at heart, and for a small number of us a couple of those people have been with us all our lives. Some come into our lives for only a short time, and go. But through it all, God is there.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
The Bible is replete with scripture about God’s love for humanity. And since I’m a human, I’m eligible to receive that love. I’m sure that as long as I’m on this side of eternity I won’t fully grasp all that God’s love entails. I know all too well how things turn out when I’ve relied on my own devices, so I decided to take God at his word, specifically Jeremiah 29:11. I’ve got nothing to lose in doing so, right?
I can only control my own actions
I’m the boss of me. I can only paddle one kayak at a time. As tempting as dictating what others should say and do appears, I have no obligation, responsibility, or ability to control their actions. If someone needs assistance, asks for my opinion, or I see that they’re blithely heading into danger; to lend a hand or offer a suggestion or a word of warning is the right thing to do.
There are folks who subscribe to a line of thinking that can be summed up as, I’ve got mine. Don’tGo get your own. To relinquish all involvement with others is in my opinion, well, selfish. None of us got to where we are today without the help of someone else. There’s a thick line between controlling others and intentionally leaving others to suffer: it’s called compassion.
I know there are some people out there who would disagree with me, but I like to think that people can easily extend compassion, empathy, and even forgiveness to others when they slip-up or make a mistake. It happens to everyone. Repeatedly. Who hasn’t said or done something that unintentionally offends someone else? It doesn’t take a board certified psychiatrist to realize that sometimes people are put in trying situations that impact others negatively through no fault of their own. Life happens.
I have a tendency to deny myself the same grace and forgiveness I extend to others. Call it being a perfectionist or setting a high standard for myself. Maybe I don’t like being called on the carpet for having disappointed others. Or maybe it’s that my ego strives for some unattainable level of perfection. I don’t know.
But I do know that I’m not perfect. I’m going to make mistakes. And there are plenty of naysayers out there poised and ready to shine the spotlight of ridicule on my missteps or bad decisions. So why get all caught up in that? If the Creator of the universe is willing to forgive me, shouldn’t I be able to do the same?
Like it or not, our lives are moving forward through time and space, in much the same manner that a canoeist or kayaker travels a river. We can choose to move through life with a hands-off approach and encounter potentially disastrous consequences or we can opt to recognize that there are bigger forces at play in our lives and choose to work with them in handling whatever comes our way.
Excerpt from the book 3 Things I Know: Facing and Embracing Life’s Challenges by Clay Rivers
Love one another.