Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dead Center

Right now I just feel like all my life long I’ve been in the canoe of life, floating down the river of time. Always striving, always being encouraged to seek more and more of what God has, to get closer to the source of all, the great ocean of time where everything has, does, and will find it’s origin. Just as the rain first evaporates from the great oceans, rising upward, coming together in the drifting winds to form great storm clouds over the land; then coming down in torrents of rain to water the earth and race downward again to the reservoir where it first began, so am I; racing onward towards this reservoir, seeking always more and more, striving to get at the ultimate knowledge of the Lord, being forced to study and ‘drink out of a fire hose’ in an attempt to ‘grasp all the wisdom of God’.

For so long I’ve been paddling down this river of time. The goal being to never waver, never swerve, never vary away from my dead center course down this creek. Anything outside the dead center was told to me to be outside of God’s will. After all, “he does not want us to be stuck on the bank, but to be heading down toward himself, so the farther from the bank the better”. So thinking, I’ve beat myself over the head more than once, in self rebuke for not staying in this dead center.

But that’s the problem with this whole approach. It is dead center. Dead center. Sure, more often than not, when there’s a question, the center of the river is the deepest. But what about the curves in the river. What about the sandbars life throws at you. What about the jutting rocks that randomly break the surface, probing the air for we know not what. What about the other canoes caught up on these obstructions that also block the dead center. What about those myriads of times when traveling down the river’s dead center will only kill your journey.

That’s where I’ve been. I’m sitting squarely in the canoe. In the dead center of the river. Grinding to a halt of the sandbars of time. Slowly becoming stagnant. Being left behind the current.

And for a time, God knew I needed a rest from the push, and shove, and paddle, and try. The shoving the Bible down my throat needed to stop. And taking time to lean back, drop the paddle, bare the chest to the sky, take a sun soaked nap without care for drifting anywhere is where I’ve been. It’s good to take a rest from striving. The sandbars in the middle of the river are great for that. It’s like your own little island where nothing can touch you. And for a time there is nothing except you, the sky, the sun, an occasional bird, and the rushing water all around you. If anything touches you, it is out of your own free will. For a moment in time, you are king.

But now, I’m back in the canoe. I’m sitting there. Right where I left off. Never wavering. Yet why am I not going anywhere? Why is there no progress; no continuing down the river of time. Why the stagnace. Why, when in the past all my striving has propelled me so effectively, can I not make any head way? What is the great invisible barrier barring my way? What is the barricade of ineffectiveness that I have become so accustomed to that I cannot even begin to see it’s origin or necessary method of demise. I’m sitting in the canoe; in the dead center; stuck on a sandbar; not headed for disaster, for I am not heading anywhere; no not disaster, but something far more devastating. Something so fruitless and tragic that it almost doesn’t stand out. It is inept, incompetent, passivity. No wonder when someone looks at the current cross-section of my life they see nothing. No movement. No purpose. No passion. No goals. No love. No achievements. I’m sitting dead center.

What I want to do is to stand up. Get out of the canoe and grab the rope and head for open water. I’m deathly afraid of water. Especially deep water. It frightens me because I don’t know what to do with it. What if I do get caught up in it? What if I lose control? What I get swept down the current at the mercy of the flow? What if it overtakes me and swallows me up? Will I be able to regain control? These are the questions that subconsciously cause me to be repulsed by the prospect of being on water. Yet there is something in all this that gives a thrill. Something that tells me that it is where I’m supposed to be. Something that has me to know that I will not long survive out of the water.

So, say I stand up. Take the dead weight out of the canoe. Grasp this shell of protection and head for the deep flowing river. Say I set it afloat again, and climb aboard, to once again become one with the river, flowing onward to the great ocean, the source of all love, life, purpose…this ocean of God’s greatness. What then? Am I leaving behind all I know? Am stepping out into the unknown? Am letting go of one thing in exchange for a better thing? Or will I be un-blinded when I actually am returning to that which was meant for me. Will returning to that free flowing quest for more of God actually be more of a coming home. will getting back in to the live center of the flowing current be all too unfamiliar but at the same time all too wonderful and more correct than ever.

I’m not scared to find out. But I’m still sitting in the canoe. Trapped in the dead center of the river. And unsure how to break out and leave the traditions of my upbringing for the real, live, flowing true center of the deep current.

I want to find out. Standing up and making a move seems to simple to talk about. But why cant I just do it?

I am going to find out where that center is. Not the dead center. No, I’ll never return there. But the wonderful, deep, swift center of Gods will where I can keep pressing onward to what he has for me. There I’ll find myself caught up again in the passion and love and purpose of this life. There I will find true peace. There I will be alive again. And not a superficial existence. It will be real; maybe including another rest; perhaps from time to time I will come along side another canoe or two at the same place in the river and lash together to float for awhile in tandem. Maybe it will involve giving a friend help and towing them behind for a while to give them a rest. Maybe I will dive out of the boat and discover the cooling refreshing qualities of the river. Maybe any or all of this.

But one thing I do know for certain. I must get past the past; I must be present in the present; and the future, it is worth it; I must make it worth it by being alive and passionate. I must find the reason to be alive and paddling, paddling for the ocean, down the deep center of the river of time.

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