One of my favorite outdoor activities is paddle boarding. I am no expert and only have the opportunity occasionally, but I quickly learned that the body of water is the ever present factor in the experience.
On a quiet lake, paddle boarding is steady and relaxing, like a lazy summertime stroll. But on a river or in the ocean, the currents and the waves are forces to battle. The one and only time I attempted to paddle in the ocean, I struggled to get the board past the break. It was a downright ugly fight and probably even comical to bystanders on the beach. Once I finally made my way through, I still had contend with the constant swells and a couple of playful dolphins.
Then there is river paddle boarding, where the current can make the first half of the ride swift and easy. But on the return, when the direction has changed, paddling is much harder, more intentional, and the trip is much longer. It’s a lot like us living in this broken world, where the status quo requires little effort but any change is difficult and often a slow process.
Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The lies of conformity are cheap promises that keep us flowing with the current.
“Everybody does it.”
“I’m not hurting anyone.”
“I’ll start tomorrow.”
“I deserve it.”
These lies shape us into a norm that maybe is comfortable for a time but ultimately not at all “the abundant life” that Jesus talks about in John 10:10. The ESV Study Bible comments on this verse, “Jesus calls his followers, not to a dour, lifeless, miserable existence that squashes human potential, but to a rich, full, joyful life, one overflowing with meaningful activities under the personal favor and blessing of God and in continual fellowship with his people.”
To find that abundant life, we must be transformed. We must change, we must look completely different. And Paul tells us that transformation flows from renewing our minds. It’s a decision to change direction, to paddle against the current. And no, it’s not easy. It’s a test of our strength and our resolve. It takes time and focus and intention. And yes, sometimes it looks more like an ocean paddle that takes every ounce of determination that we can muster, and maybe we spend more time falling than we do paddle boarding.
But as we renew our minds and are able to begin discerning God’s good, abundant and perfect will for us, we eventually find that steady, quiet lake paddle, where we still must be mindful in our steering and exert a measure of our power — but we will find peace.
How is your life flowing with the current of the world today? How do you want to change direction?
Can you think of a time when you “paddled” against the current? How did that experience strengthen you?
What does Jesus’ “abundant life” look like for you?
Jesus, how good and perfect is your abundant life for us. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear so that we may discern the will of our Father, and give us faith to trust him. We ask that you renew our minds and grant us your supernatural strength as we change direction and paddle against the current of this broken world. We are tired of the cheap lies and empty promises. We want the goodness and perfect peace that you offer. Amen.