When we were kids we used to go out on my Grandpa’s motor boat in the summer. Sometimes, if we were in a calm area without other boats around, going very slowly, Grandpa would let us steer! He would be there guiding us the whole time, but we got to be “in charge” even if it was just for a few moments. There was no way we could actually have steered his boat all the way back to the dock. We didn’t fully know what we were doing. And even if we did, surrounded by water we had no idea which way to go! Our control of the situation was limited to the small and short “safe zones” where Grandpa knew we could handle it. For anything more, we needed his help. We didn’t mind handing over the wheel. We could relax and enjoy the beauty of the lake without worrying because we knew we were safe with Grandpa and trusted he would take care of everything.
Sometimes my brain is like the little child trying to steer the boat. Except now that I’m grown, I seem to forget that there are times we need to hand over the wheel. I try to take charge of the whole trip, planning out every little detail. I seem to think that I can steer the boat to shore all on my own. But when waves come crashing around, when bigger boats go zooming past, when the wind whips up around me, I have no idea where to go next. I need someone else to take charge. I need God.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-16
I have always been a planner. During confession once I expressed my frustration to the priest that no matter how hard I try, I always seem to struggle with letting go and allowing God to take charge in my life. I always try to plan my own way instead of asking God what His plan is for me. The priest reminded me that planning is a gift from God. Many people struggle with planning a daily schedule that allows time for family, prayer, work, etc. It is good to be able to plan. But the key is knowing when to let go.
I cannot plan what will happen in our lives two weeks from now, two months from now, two years from now. There are things I can prepare for. But only God truly knows the way back to shore. It is not my boat. He simply lets me steer for awhile. God is there beside me and it is only because of the gifts He has given me that I can plan at all! It is only through Him that I can steer even for a short while. Instead of worrying and planning for events far beyond my control, I need to hand the wheel back to God and take time to enjoy the beauty surrounding me while trusting that He will guide me safely back to shore.