Swamp Lessons

It was our first time out in the tandem kayak since last fall. Being uncharacteristically spontaneous, we decided to grab the kayak and gear and head out for an after dinner paddle session in the Great Dismal Swamp.

We shoved off into the water and all was going well for the first twenty minutes until we heard rumbling. “Was that thunder?”

It was then we realized we hadn’t checked the weather radar before leaving the house. Sure enough, a storm was rolling in and we needed to get back to the launch area where our truck was parked.

We quickly turned the kayak around and started to head back. Since we’ve been enjoying kayaking together for several years now, we can quickly get our strokes into sync and move along the water pretty quickly without knocking each other out with our paddles. (Believe me, there was a learning curve for us.)

The wind was to our backs so we were able to make good time. I started feeling pretty good about being strong enough to “pull my own weight” and help get us back safely to the launch site. I felt strong and healthy. . . until. . .

Until Hubs stopped paddling. He needed a quick break to adjust his grip and only stopped paddling for a few seconds. But in those few seconds I realized I wasn’t really pulling my own weight. I was using all of my effort to paddle but our kayak began to slow down to a turtle crawl.

“Paddle harder”, I told myself. “Come on, muscles”, my mind hollered. It was no use – all of my strength and might could not get us any further down the swamp canal. For a brief second, I panicked. “We’ll never make it!”

But then, Hubs started paddling again. The true strength of our duo was back to work and we were making some progress. We made it safely back to the boat launch, loaded everything back into the truck, and drove the few miles home before the first drop of rain fell.

I’m pretty sure we’ll double check the weather radar before heading out next time. We’ve learned that lesson. And there were a few other lessons I was reminded of too.

Some days, in this cancer journey, I feel really good and somewhat strong and even kinda healthy. So good, in fact, I forget where my strength comes from. Sitting in the front of the boat with the wind to my back, I glide along and forget Who is the real muscle behind me.

He’s already checked the weather (because He created it) and knows what is ahead. He never needs to readjust His grip because He’s always holding me in His hands. But sometimes He allows a resting time where I can’t see or feel His hands at work. I only feel the panic of moving at turtle speed and try to paddle all the harder to pick up the pace.

This is when I’m reminded that He is my strength. He’s the real muscle in the back of the boat. When the rumble of the approaching storm causes my heart to race and panic to well up inside of me and I desperately try to do all of the paddling, I realize I must rest too. I must rest and remember that only He can carry us along the swamp canal.

The storm above me, the muck beneath me, the cancer within me, is no match for the God around me. As our Pastor frequently reminds us, “When you can’t see the hands of God – trust His heart.” God has never failed me nor will He ever fail me. No matter the outcome of all of this I know He loves me and will be my strength through it all. I trust Him completely. Amen.

4 thoughts on “Swamp Lessons

  1. Well Kelly that is a beautiful story of all the strength God is providing you, both in the natural with your husband who definitely has your back and God Himself within you strengthening and guiding you all the way. Thanks for reminding us all of how there are times to press and times to rest. And that He is there being as you said , the Real Muscle behind and within us. God bless you!

  2. I loved this! So uplifting and encouraging. I have been so guilty of acting like its my own strength getting me through this when I have a sudden reversal like headaches, unexplained new pain, lack of focus, motivation and drive. Then I start berating myself for my lack of progress and God gently nudges me to take a nap and trust Him while I sleep knowing He has all my times in His hands.

  3. What a lovely reminder of Gods strength in each of our lives. I live near the canal, many days I’ve seen the dark clouds overhead, the mucky water beneath, and the threatening sound of the thunder. It’s so easy for me to forget from where the true power comes to get me through trials. Thanks for reminding me.
    Praying for Gods maximum strength to uphold you through your storm.

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