It was the fourth morning on the Quetico Provincial Park canoe trip.  We had paddled against a headwind for three days covering approximately 12 miles each day and portaging our gear and canoes between several lakes.  This morning was relatively calm – a welcome change in the weather.  Before starting out on our day’s journey, we decided to investigate a recently vacated campsite on a neighboring island.  It had looked like a desirable location but had been occupied when we paddled by the evening before.  The campers were our first siting of people since embarking on our journey.  In the country we were traveling, people were almost as sparse as the bear, moose, elk and deer appeared to be (we saw none of the four-legged creatures mentioned).

We pulled up along side a large boulder and hopped out of the canoe.  The helmsman (HM) from the accompanying canoe came over to hold our canoe while my canoe partner (CP) and I went to check out the campsite.  It was a dandy.  There was a very nice fire pit and lots of level ground for tents.  We’d have to mark that on the map as a good spot.

As we came back to the canoe to load up, life suddenly went into slow motion.  Much transpired in a short time.  I would guess the following story occurred in a minute or less.

HM went back to his canoe.  CP got into our canoe.  I, well, I didn’t make it in the canoe at all.  I am most grateful, actually, that I didn’t partially make it in the canoe or the story would have become even more complex I’m sure.  But, I didn’t reach the goal at all.  As I was approaching the canoe, my foot slipped on a mossy part of the rock and down I slid.  As I recall, I was about waist deep where I initially landed.  I promptly attempted to climb out myself, only to hit another slick spot and end up entirely in the water with nothing beneath my feet.  We’d been swimming in the lake the evening before.  The temperature was moderately warm.  It didn’t feel too bad, but I wasn’t planning to start my day with a bath.  By now I had one hand on a dry crevice in the rock. With the buoyancy of the water to help lift me, my fingers could hold me there for quite a while.  “Grab the canoe,”  CP instructed.  I reached for it with my free hand and grasped the bow.  In a flash CP was out of the canoe and in front of me on the rock.  “Now let go of the rock and take my hand,” he instructed next.  “What if I pull you in?” I countered.  “You won’t.  Grab my hand,” he replied.  I thought for a second.  He was standing on dry rock- which meant he was a little ways away.  It would be a stretch to reach his hand.  And I couldn’t let go of the canoe with the other hand yet because HM wasn’t back to the side of our canoe at that point.  What if I let go but missed his hand and then couldn’t find my comfortable crevice again?  Then I’d be floating around with the canoe and no land to hang on to.  Or what if I did pull CP into the water?  My fingers were still securely in the crevice of the rock.  It felt safe.  I wasn’t cold.  I wasn’t in immediate danger.  But obviously I couldn’t stay there forever.  I had to get out of the water to get on with my day.  The crevice in the rock I was hanging on to wasn’t helping me get out of the water.  I had to have faith to let go of what felt secure in order to get on with something better.  I made the stretch and it all turned out just fine.


I haven’t always made the stretch in life.  There have been situations, ways of coping, or even attitudes that I knew weren’t ideal, but possibly just the familiarity of it gave me the feeling that staying in it was the safe thing to do.  It’s sometimes easier to stay in a place in life that we know, even when we are hanging on by our fingertips, than to let go, try something new, and reach for something better.  What keeps you from letting go?  What’s holding you back? What’s keeping you in the water and not on the rock?

1 Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3 For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.  Selah  Psalm 61: 1-4 NKJV

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  1. Holding On

     /  September 5, 2011

    Cry Out, Follow, Abide and Trust what an example David gives us of how to come before our Lord. Answers to your questions, #1 Trusting God’s ways and not my own. #2 Lack of Faith #3 not enough time in the Word.

  2. And how many things do we miss because we fear letting go?

    • Knowing all the things that could have been, the joy we could have had and shared, the things we could have experienced and learned but missed out on due to fear….would make us weep, I’m sure.


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