I never made it past the first line.
When I woke up this morning, I was brimming with anticipation. I just finished a great book the day before, and today was the day I would get to start another in my morning reading time. I had been waiting a while to get to Max Lucado’s book, Outlive Your Life, planning to study it alongside what God’s words had to say about where my words were headed.
I have always taken a long time to read motivational books. I find enormous amounts of inspiration and wisdom as I turn the fragile pages of print. I often read a page or two and then need time to contemplate what I read, explore the path it took my mind down, wander and wonder about the message, and ponder and process the prose with my pen. But I usually get at least a paragraph in before my mind spurs into a spin.
Not this time. One sentence and off I went.
Such a simple, factual statement as the author dove into the telling of a fable as a preface to his main focus. “Unfavorable winds blow the ship off course, and when they do, the sailors spot uncharted islands.” This has been happening since the beginning of time, yet today, as I sit in this chair, these words bring me a new revelation.
I would have not found uncharted islands if it had not been for some unfavorable winds in my travels. Just like those sailors.
They would have not found the islands unless they had been blown off course. They had a plan. A nice predictable one. One that led them from point A to point B. One that was safe and sure and steady. But the wind had other plans. Hmm. See why I got stuck on that sentence?
It sounds an awful lot like my life. And maybe yours. We are just traveling along on a calm and well-planned course and either are suddenly shifted in a new direction or maybe slowly drift off course when we didn’t have our eyes fixed on that compass. Either way, we are headed in a direction we did not see coming.
The reactions to this event are varied, but usually involve some form of rapid course correction. I know very few people that stand there calmly and say, “Oh, well this was not in the plan. I have no idea where we are going now, but what a great adventure it might be.”
Not I said the duck.
I panic. I grasp at oars and throw things overboard and buy new compasses and yell at my crew to fix it. Sometimes I get mad at my captain, questioning why He brought on the wind even though I know He isn’t the one who brought it. I blame and chase and run and push and whine and do everything I can to get back on the course I planned.
In hindsight, I know there are some uncharted islands that changed my life. If I had not been there to see them, my territory would be so limited. I would not be surprised or overjoyed or curious or full of wonder or open to possibilities beyond my imagination. I would just be on the same route, chugging along at my speed with my perfectly drawn map. A map, I may point out, that didn’t show all that was out there.
It may have just been one sentence, and the story that followed probably had little to do with the few words I anchored to, but within those few words, I was able to see the shore. No one wants a big storm to come their way. No one wants to be thrown off course. But maybe we can start to recognize the uncharted opportunities that may present themselves where we land. Maybe we can be a little less panicked if the waves and wind turn us another way. Maybe there is an uncharted island ahead full of treasures we have never seen and people we have never met, just waiting for what only our arrival can bring them.