My husband’s family owns a cabin up north. It’s nothing spectacular or fancy, but just a very simple structure that sits up high on a grassy hill, overlooking a lovely lake.
From the wrap-around deck, you can relax and nestle into a comfy chair, sipping your tea, while busy little hummingbirds flit about you, sipping their nectar and jetting to and fro.
For these past eleven years, I’ve made my way from the deck at the top of the hill, down those 97 wooden steps to the glorious deep blue-green waters of Lake Vermont. The trek down is never really difficult; you just have to make sure you go slow enough so as not to lose your balance and fall.
I’ve been out on the lake when it’s been calm and peaceful, like a big clear pane of glass. I’ve breathed in clean, crisp air, while I’ve watched the cows chew cud across the way, and gazed at the turtles sunbathing in the warm light of a summer’s day. I’ve relaxed and enjoyed the very essence of the moment.
And then there were days when I was out on the lake with my family and we panicked as the gas gauge was misread, and ended up stranded in the middle of the lake, wondering how we’d ever reach home.
On other occasions, I’ve been out on the boat when a sudden rain storm would move in, setting the boat to rocking back and forth, waves pushing us side to side, while my heart pumped a little harder…..a little faster.
One day, I happened to be in a large yellow inner tube in the middle of the lake, rising to the occasion of riding the waves, fearful as my little Iowa-girl- self, incapable of swimming, was certain that near-death experience was close by. I settled into the tube, while settling into the fear of being tipped over, and soon, gasping for breath, was suddenly overtaken by the realization that I had been thrust out, only soon to discover I was wearing a bright red life jacket which would save me. I bobbed to the surface, having seen my life flash by in a few seconds all the while hoping this would not be the end. My own family watching my excursion remained calm and confident in that life preserver.
While on that lake, I’ve felt pleasure and contentment, rest and relaxation, but I’ve also known fear, panic and dread.
At times the lake was calm and I would feel confident in myself and abilities, and yet at other times the waves came crashing down and I felt very, very small.
This beautiful lake reminds me of our lives. There are days where we tenaciously make our way down the 97 wooden steps and jump into the Lake of Life, releasing our spirits to lap up every beautiful ray of sunlight and every glorious echo of rippling water and cooing loon. But on many occasions, there are days when we lose our balance on our own steps, while trying to get there, falling and bruising our egos.
Here’s what I know about this Lake of Life. I know that we can learn from scripture and the story of the disciples out on a troubled trip, filled with storms and crashing waves. In Mark 4:37, Jesus and the disciples were on a lake. “A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it.” But the thing that bothered the disciples was that Jesus was peacefully sleeping right through it. No fear …. no concern.
When the disciples finally wake Him up, He addresses the lake and says, (vs 39) “Quiet! Be Still!” And then to the disciples He questions, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The Lake of Life can be smooth transitions. It can be rough waters. It can offer times and spots that are troubled and frightening. But that’s just it…it’s life. Jesus did not protect the disciples from experiencing the storm. Instead, He allowed them to journey through it, while He rested peacefully next to them. And when they woke Him, He reminded them that through Him, they had the power to not fear or dread….but to experience the Lake of Life faith-filled.
Sometimes the challenge in our lives comes from tripping down the stairs as we head onto the Lake. We get off the beaten path, we get lost and stumble.
Sometimes the challenge in our lives comes from being in life and experiencing trials and hard times in our marriages, our jobs, or with our families and friends.
Often we can find ourselves in the middle of life and we’ve just run completely out of gas. Or the next wave is coming up so high; it’s going to drag us under.
What I know is simply this … if you know Jesus as Savior, you are never alone. He rides the waves with you; He’s there with the gas tank called His Word. He is the Life Preserver that you wear around your chest. He is the One who stills the crashing waves and will not let you drown.
He is also the same Creator who provides the days of sunshine and warmth, when life seems filled with good things and beauty. But He’s in that boat with you and He’s out now on your Lake of Life.
In John 10:10b, Jesus declares this strong foundation for our daily life….
“I came to give them real and eternal life. More and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
No matter where you are today, whether you are walking down the 97 steps, or out in the boat on a calm day, or even in the midst of a horrible storm…. you are never alone. Jesus came to help you live a better life than you ever dreamed of, and the way that you begin, is by putting your faith in Him no matter what’s happening out on the Lake.
And I believe that the “better life” Jesus speaks of is simply this … experiencing through Christ Your Best Life.