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  • Hannah Bartlett

Setting the Course

This past week, as some places and activities on PEI have been considered safer, my husband John and I decided we would love to explore the beautiful Charlottetown waterfront by renting a two-person kayak. We suited up in our life jackets and got ready to embark on our waterfront adventure. As we were getting in, the woman at the rental place insisted that the strongest person sit in the back. I pointed to John and he climbed into the back and I in the front. Soon we were pushing off into the harbour.


This is the logic behind why the strongest person sits in the back: this position is reserved for the person who is able to give more power to the boat, who will find it easier to steer, and who will ultimately be in charge of the speed and direction of the vessel.


As we made our first few strokes, it was obvious to me that we were not in sync. “Right!” I shouted back to John, “We’re trying to go right! Paddle right!” but we were only drifting. “Maybe left!” I shouted back, “Let’s try to go left!” I paddled left and could sense that our kayak was simply slowing going around in a circle over and over.


Glancing towards the other kayakers serenely moving along the coastline, I saw where I wanted to go, but we were not moving anywhere fast.


“What’s happening?” I shouted back to John. “I’m trying to follow what you’re doing,” he replied, “but it’s not working.”


It was in that moment that I realized what was going wrong. I was trying to steer us, direct us, and determine our path. But I was not the person sitting in the back. It was not my job to set the direction or the speed, or to give power to the kayak. If anything, my role was to talk with John about the course that could be set, and help him to steer us. I should be me trying to follow him, not the other way around.


We were not moving anywhere because I was acting like I was sitting in the back of the kayak: the strongest one, the one with the power, and the one who sets the course. Until I stopped and acknowledged what my position in this kayak adventure was, we were not going anywhere.


Once I surrendered to the idea of working with John to set the course and speed, the rest of the adventure was great! Even as we were sitting on the water I saw the connection to this moment in my own life: how often do I want to set the course and speed when I am only sitting in the front? God is the one who holds all the power, the direction for my life, and who sets the course. But it can be hard to hear or discern what this is – to even more forward – if I am acting like I am the one steering! Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (NIV)


Let us listen in prayer this month and work along side the Lord as he establishes the plans he has for us and sets the course.







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