Drift Fatigue

April 03, 2012

A squid boat which was lost a year ago during the 2011 tsunami was recently spotted. It was drifting about 120 nautical miles off the coast of British Columbia. It seems sad to me. What have the squid guys been “Squiding” with for a year? Did they put up pictures of the boat at all of the, ummm, maritime bars, asking if you see this boat to please call the phone number. We do it for puppies, kittens and bicycles. It seems reasonable for someone to put posters around town for a missing boat.

Part of my fascination with the story is that I never get to use the word squid in a reasonable conversation, and then, “Bam!” just like that I can use a whole year's worth of squid-word-rations, all day long. People are actually marginally impressed with my knowledge of odd current events.

The truth however is that I am actually repulsed by the concept of squid fishing. Even if I were to catch one, I don't mind saying that I wouldn't want to touch it.

I've only encountered real squid at a restaurant. By that time, it was cut up into cute little ringlets of rubbery, buttery fish-like food. My questions are always the same on exotic foods. Are we so desperate for food that this grotesque creature looks appetizing? Sure. If I am Chuck Noland, (Tom Hanks' character from Castaway) I can be tempted to eat something out of sheer boredom, but there are still frozen TV dinners I haven't tried at the Piggly Wiggly. I am going to make sure that I have sampled all available, common foods before I resort to ingesting an alien-like, cephalapod.

Maybe that explains why the boat was lost and not reclaimed earlier. The squid-guys moved on to work as Honda salesmen.

What caught my attention was a single sentence. It read, “It’s been drifting across the Pacific for a year, so it’s pretty beat up.”

I wonder if that is not the explanation for most people's exhaustion with life. Drifting always makes the trip take longer. It puts us into uncharted waters. It leaves us unprepared for parts of the journey. That wears on a person. It wears on a marriage. It wears on a ministry, a career, a family, our faith. Drifting, or living accidentally, allows each new shift of the the currents to make a victim of us. It creates a chaos and doubt.

There is a straight line that leaves us less wind worn. It is a direct path to where we are aiming. It is a peaceful path, but one of deliberate course. The tsunamis that rage against our life's fulfillment and joy can set even the most planned ministry adrift into the sea of doubt, instability and self reliance. That course is the only “true north” on the raging torrents of ministry, relationships and decision-making.

The real danger comes when we adjust to the currents of criticism and setback. I often times begin to reassess the vision for the trek. I find myself dead-reckoning. I veer off course for hours at a time when the assault come. Oh, they will come.

Here are a few key principles that I have applied to ministry that keep me from becoming a derelict, a beaten and blasted fragment of the proud traveller, or worse, a ghost ship, the vessel that has no life left in it except for the physicality of staying afloat. Here they are.

1. One of my mentors, a man named Don Lonie, used to remind me that God is more concerned with who I am in Him than what I do for Him. It is critical for me to realize that the destination that I deem so critical to God's mission for my life is actually his tool for shaping me. God is moving me where he wants, in the shape that he wants me.
2. Another of my mentors, Bill Bullard, has reminded me that if God has another to steer the ship He would have selected them initially. His selection was me for this stretch of the journey, regardless of the many detractors. Besides this, he reminds me that I am riding God's ship. He set the course. As long as I make sure that I am heading where He desires, I am not lost.
3. Peter, in the book of Matthew has given me the most stabilizing nautical advice when he asked,
  "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
      Matthew 14:28

    Hmmm. Just what is my destination anyway?  

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