Life is about balance, keeping an even keel on a constantly changing sea of circumstances and emotions. The up then down, back then forth nature of life can be exciting and unnerving at the same time, and not being able to see over the next wave can be terrifying. We are all bobbers on the fishing line of life, happily floating along on the surface till that one moment we are pulled under by the bite of circumstances beyond our control. If you’ve been reading here recently, you will know that this summer has been full of change in our little mid Michigan world. From new jobs to kids moving out to new school schedules and my wife and I working opposite shifts, out life has been cresting waves and bottoming troughs all summer – it has been difficult to keep up.
When I was younger, I would thrive on the instability of life. It was an adventure and I was fully engaged in the uncertainty of it all. I did not care that I did not know what tomorrow would bring and planning was for people with no imagination or curiosity. I was a bobber on the surface enjoying the ride. Back in the 1980’s, comedian Mark Lowry had a sketch where he would talk about the series of ups and downs that life is and how the Good Lord came to bring us a life more abundant – meaning lots of higher highs and lower lows. That struck a cord in my new Christian life and I was all in. It helped me to understand that I was normal…that my life was not unusual…that everyone who is young and figuring out life for the first time feels scattered and unkempt and out of control…and it is OK…
Maybe it’s age…or experience…but somewhere along the way the chaos became more managed and the uncertainty became minimized. Marriage, children, ailing parents, job responsibilities, and other things demanded less chaos, more focus, a different perspective. I could no longer be just a part of the ups and downs but had to find a way to navigate them. I dove into my Bible, joined study groups, studied on my own, became a people watcher. I learned that the bobber is tied to a line and that line is being reeled by someone much greater than I. He knows what bait is tied on the end of the line that tries to pull me under. He knows when to hold the line taught and when to let it slack. He knows from his vantage point what waves are coming next and beyond them to the storm or sunrise on the distant horizon. He knows when to reel me in and cast me in another direction where there may be better opportunities. He knows how to reach into the water when I get tangled or snagged and unravel the mess and straighten me out. He knows, and his eye is always on the bobber.
This understanding – that am not, cannot, and do not have to be in control – has been one of the most freeing lessons of my life. It is not that there is less chaos, or higher highs and lower lows…this summer – really the last couple of years – have had some of the highest and deepest of swells for my family. It is knowing that this life more abundant is on the line of a loving God whose plans are for our benefit and his glory.