This past week we took a break from our normal routine and spent some time at the lake. It was nice to get away and enjoy a change in scenery and this time of year there were only a few campers – especially during the week – so the lake was quiet and serene.
One morning, Jennifer and I walked down to the water’s edge and just sat quietly watching the waves lap against the shore. There was only a slight breeze but the water seemed to be in constant motion, the waves rhythmically rolling across the lake. However as they lapped against the pebbled shore, the water line never moved.
As I sat and watched the mesmerizing motion of the water I wondered how often my life was moved into motion by the winds of the culture around me; I live in a world of constant motion and I seem to be continually swept up in the fast-paced rhythm of 21st century living. Of course I’m sure that the pace of the 21st century is not unique just to this time period and people have always been prone to move through life as quickly as possible always looking ahead and hurrying on, but the technology and conveniences of this century have not slackened the pace.
Yet as I watched the movement of the water, I was transfixed by the unmovable shoreline. No matter how rapidly and briskly the water hit the shore or how gently it rolled against the rocks, it was restricted by the boundaries of the shore. The lake did not move despite the continual movement of the water.
In much the same way we are restricted by the number of days that God has granted us and although we may not know that number, we cannot change it by rushing rapidly through each day or by attempting to stall and refusing to move at all. Each of us will be moved by the steady rhythm of time and yet unlike the lake, I believe we have the ability to choose how we move and what winds sway us.
It is easy to think that we are victims of culture and like the water on the lake we are moved by the pace of the world around us without choice, but I think that is where we differ from the water – we can and do choose the winds we ride and those choices reflect the priorities of our heart. Some of us move at a fast paced work schedule because we trust in money – maybe even more than we want to admit -while others work for pleasure and have little regard whether they make a lot or a little or even enough by some standards. Some love other things – the list is endless- more than money and chose to live even without what many consider basic necessities to avoid being moved by the rhythm of regular job. The list of winds that move us is complex and endless but directed more by our hearts than I think we realize or are willing to admit while the shorelines that we would like to move are stationary.
However, although we cannot move the shore, the rhythm of our lives is not fruitless. Even the movement of the water on the lake has a purpose – in fact, it is multi-purposed. And so our choices do matter to those who flow along with us, to those who are touched by the movement of our lives, and even by the marks left on those shoreline boundaries beyond which we do not travel.
We can choose to travel at a brisk pace which may be a joyfully brisk pace for some – intentionally thought out and traveled rapidly to do as much as possible for the greater good- or it may be the brisk pace of the world by which we are carried along without thought to the tempo or regard for the direction of the wind. Others may choose a slower rhythm and carefully plod through each moment enjoying the gentle sway of time and helping those around them take notice of each wave or they may try to balk and hold back the steady passage of time and with their balking find they have been moved along none-the-less and yet neither enjoyed the journey nor traveled it purposefully.
As I sat and watched the gentle waves lap the shore, I was thankful for a few moments of quiet reflection and I prayed that when I again returned home to the faster rhythm of work, I would not be moved along without thought. Even when work and life laid claim to my time, I prayed that my attitude in and my gratitude for each moment would give thought and purpose to each wave that moved me along.