This past week has been rather difficult for me. I’ve landed a really tough job at Indian Creek Camp as ski director for the summer. So for the past few days, my sole job has been to explore the lake, becoming familiar with the good ski and tubing spots. Yeah, rough times. But as much as it sounds like a really unlucky job, I’ve actually enjoyed it quite a lot. I love adventure and exploration. ICC is located on Center Hill Lake, right near Nashville, Tennessee. It’s 62 miles long from top to bottom and takes roughly 4 hours to drive the ski boat from one dam to the other and back again. Needless to say, that’s a long time to be driving a boat.
I’ve had a lot of cool experiences while exploring the lake. One time, while cruising around a bend, I noticed what looked like a log floating near the shoreline. As I drew closer, I could see a wake extending out from behind it and realized it was moving. Suddenly I saw two ears sticking up with a snout staying just above the waterline. It was a deer, swimming silently from one side of the lake to the other. I throttled back to an idle and then cut the engine altogether, watching the deer swim silently to the bank and walk into the forest. It paused momentarily to look at me over its shoulder, and then leapt effortlessly into the foliage. Another time, I was exploring an inlet to the lake, following the stream deeper and deeper into the woods. The “lake” was only a narrow strip of water at this point and I was keeping an eagle eye on my depth reader as it dropped below 10 feet deep. Suddenly I saw a whole flock of little ducklings waddling down the bank towards the water’s edge. I cut the engine again and watched silently as the little bunch of squawking feathers jostled each other into the water. Chirping exuberantly, they plotted their course and swam for a ways down the shoreline before exiting the water on the same side they had entered.
But the animals aren’t the only thing nature has to offer here on this 62 mile idyll. Watching dark storm clouds rise on the horizon, racing storms back to the boathouse while keeping the nose pointed into the waves and bracing against the rain, experiencing gorgeous sunsets, feeling the spray of the lake on my face and seeing rainbows dance in my wake, it all becomes one glorious symphony of freedom, beauty, and motion. And the stars. Oh mercy me. At night, I’ll take the 22 foot long ski boat into the middle of the lake, turn on the anchor light and shut everything else off, and just lay out under the stars. So far away from the hustle and bustle of society and with no obstructions to block my view, it’s almost as if I can reach out and touch the sky, picking off stars one by one and placing them in my heart to store as bejeweled memories.
But one experience on the lake stands out prominently in my memory. I was out with my brother Caleb, cruising around a new section that I had wanted to explore. After awhile, I ran into cell service (I have AT&T which has terrible coverage around Center Hill Lake; we’re that far out in the TN boonies). Now, one does not just “run” into cell service without making use of this rare commodity. So I decided to make a phone call. While Caleb tinkered around with the dashboard of the boat, learning what different knobs did, I stretched out on the seat and commenced to converse on my cellular device. After finishing, I went to restart the ski boat before continuing our exploratory journey. I twisted the key. Nothing. I twisted it again. Nothing again. Puzzled, I checked and saw that all my dashlights were working, then tried the key again. Absolutely nothing. I opened the engine compartment and checked everything in there. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. No wires were loose, no oil was leaking (it was worth checking; maybe the boat had an anti-start mechanism if the engine was leaking), nothing seemed wrong. And yet, our boat was going nowhere. Actually, it WAS going somewhere. The wind was blowing us straight for the rocks lining the side of the lake. We puzzled for a while, grinning inwardly at our predicament and weighing our options. I did not want to call back to camp and have them come tow us, because I knew there was nothing wrong with the boat and we’d never hear the end of teasing. We just needed to figure it out. But as the minutes dragged by and the rocks became closer, I quickly realized nothing I could think of was working to bring the dead motor back to life. That’s when a fishing boat went cruising past us. Seeing our engine compartment open, they circled around and asked if we need help. “Well,” I said. “Yes, actually.” The driver idled up to our boat and one guy hopped in, saying he was a boat mechanic. “He must be super qualified to figure this problem out!” I thought. He jiggled the throttle lever, which snapped into the neutral position and suddenly, when he turned the key, the engine purred to life. That’s when Caleb remembered that he had accidentally knocked the throttle out of neutral. We thanked the man profusely as he left but he generously waved it off and said he was glad to help. But I’m sure he had his own thoughts about the two teenage guys in the middle of the lake, chilling in a $90,000 ski boat and not even knowing how to start the engine. But it happens.
In fact, life happens. And sometimes life can make us feel like a boat in the middle of a huge lake with so many places to explore all around us, and yet we can’t go anywhere except towards the rocks. We feel stuck, trapped, unable to live our lives in the way that we always dreamed of doing. Nothing we try seems to work. We go to college to get a degree to make money to bring us happiness. We attach ourselves to a significant other so we can find fulfillment. We travel to see the world and gain inspiration. We support and go on mission trips to realize how needed we are in the world. And yet as we sit in our boats of comfort, viewing all the potential around us that seems just within reach, our lives seem to be going nowhere. All it takes is a kindly Fisherman to come along. He’ll show us what needs fixing and suddenly, we’ll realize how simple it all really is.
Stop wasting your time and energy trying to fix your life. Do you want to truly live? To explore the world? To use the potential God has given you to bless others? To experience life to its fullest? Jesus is pulled up right next to you, waiting for permission to board. Give your life to Him and you'll go places you've never even dreamed possible!