Without a Paddle

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(This is an excerpt from the book Life Rocks! by John Bytheway.)

Have you ever been in a bind? A tough situation? A no-win scenario? Sometimes referred to as “up a creek without a paddle”?

I know something about paddles because I have a canoe hanging in my garage. I love to take my kids fishing every summer and paddle them around the lake in my canoe. Without the paddle, we’d be in big trouble. We couldn’t go anywhere. We’d be at the mercy of the wind and waves, and all we could do is “go with the flow.” Sadly, there are people like this. Mormon described some of them in these words:

But now, behold, they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they. (Mormon 5:18)

Sometimes life comes at you in waves. What is the safest thing to do when a big wave is coming? Oddly enough, the safest thing to do is go right at it. Turn your canoe so that it’s pointing at the wave, and paddle towards it. If you try to run from it or turn sideways, the wave will tip you over. In the same way, the safest way to navigate the sea of life is to go right at it. Have a plan, set a course, and get moving. You know the purpose of life, but you must also come to know the purpose of your life. The gospel gives us the plan!

One time, my wife and I capsized in our canoe. How did that happen? Well, I stopped rowing. It was that simple. I was reeling in a fish, and our canoe slowed to a stop in the water. Two of our children were in the canoe with us, and they started to wiggle around and reach over the edge, and suddenly we all got wet. We discovered you’re more likely to capsize when you’re not moving because a canoe isn’t as stable when it’s sitting still. What’s true in canoeing is true in life—it’s always safer to be moving, to be going someplace, to have a course and a destination in mind.

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