Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Friday, August 13 - Know the Obstacles

“I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs..” — Isaiah 41:18

I remember growing up watching the “Wide World of Sports” on Saturday afternoons – a program devoted to those sports that did not get the same coverage during the week as, say, football or basketball. These were sports such as skiing, diving, bobsled racing and even curling. It was a great way to get to know some of these lesser-known sports and see how their athletes handled challenges and competition.

One of the sports I distinctly remember was kayaking. These slender, banana-shaped boats had to be maneuvered down a whitewater stream channel, and not only did you have to avoid rocks, you had to go around plastic poles slalom-style. And if you flipped upside down, you were stuck under water. You had better be able to flip yourself back upright with your paddle, all with water being splashed in your face, and practically all your strength coming from your upper body.

Later in life, I went canoeing with my husband in a tranquil national park water refuge. At first I asked, “This isn’t like kayaking, right?” I was told this was a canoe, meaning I would have my feet planted underneath me as I sat on a bench, and there wouldn’t be a lot of paddling but I could easily be extricated from the boat.

All of this was true, but I couldn’t help having flashbacks to seeing those fast little boats whipping their way around raging waters and striped poles in order to reach a finish line first. (I would be concentrating on survival, thank you very much.)

Determination to make ourselves successful in whatever we do requires planning. These kayakers were able to see the course beforehand, know where the rocks were, see the currents, count the slalom poles, and be aware of the time to beat. Their bodies had to be strong and flexible, and their minds quick and decisive.

Knowing our goal is one thing, but knowing the obstacles in our way is just as important.  As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

We cannot overcome our weaknesses to reach our final victory without Christ — just as the kayakers cannot set out on their race without seeing their goal and the barriers along the way. May we shake off the spray on our faces, grip our paddles and steer our boats toward His finish line.

— Mary Nuckols

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