Imagine you found yourself adrift in the ocean with a life preserver but no idea where the shoreline was. As far as the eye can see, there’s only the same wide blue vastness. What would you do? Probably tread water, battling waves and struggling against the current. But without a clear direction you’d soon grow discouraged.
That’s what life is like when we have no focus. We drift about- going to work, paying our bills, reacting to whatever comes our way, but feeling rudderless. We may even be happy for the most part. But eventually days turn into years and we find ourselves so far off course that we’ve lost track of the dreams we once had.
Chris Downie, The Spark P. 15
Not very long ago I felt rudderless. Drifting about aimlessly. Directionless. Life was reasonably perfect. I was married with two children; a boy and a girl, biologically. We owned our own home. We had two vehicles in the driveway. We even had the dog. Aside from the white picket fence, it was everything I had ever wanted.
I smiled the perfect smile to go along with my perfect life, but on the inside, I was dying. Life just wasn’t what I envisioned it to be, despite having all that I had ever envisioned.
I was drifting and I knew it.
So I started working at correcting this problem. I made a game plan. My husband and I made a game plan. And then, we changed our game plan time and again when life would inevitably throw us a curve ball.
What was I living for? What was my purpose? What was the purpose of anything? Why did we try so hard? Why did we even bother? Why couldn’t we ever just catch a break?
As each turn of events conspired against the game plans my husband and I had so carefully laid out, these questions once again rolled through the back of my mind.
Then I would buckle up my laces, bury my frustrations, and get back on the saddle to ride out our next game plan.
I would tighten my grip on my life preserver, take a deep breath, and battle against the current once again.
Life was rudderless.
Now, you may be thinking similarly to what I had thought; that my life had an extremely specific focus. We had a set game plan with specific actions steps and a clear reason for succeeding with our goals.
You will be right in this thinking. But, we still weren’t being successful. So, what gives?
Today I finally discovered the answer to that. The answer lay in the difference between interest and commitment. While I was sincerely interested, I was not committed.
When it became more of a struggle to reach for the goals than it was rewarding, I quickly lost focus. Realizing that though I was moving at a furious speed, in all reality, I was going no where. I was treading water… rudderless.
Then we had our car accident. The final oorah that wiped us off the track of our most recent “game plan.”
I spent awhile wondering why. Why after I had finally got settled into my new job. Why after I had just gotten my beloved vehicle fixed. Why, when we were so close to finally “making it” did we have to get the rug ripped right out from under our feet.
You may be thinking that as a Christian this is the point that I became angry with God. Naturally, this is the most common reason for turning from the Christian faith. The hardest part of the struggle, is when He doesn’t release you from the endless amount of struggling. You become sick of always fighting to survive. Always pushing forward. Always trying so darn hard and never really going anywhere. This is the point that so many Christians become angry with their God.
I’m afraid I must disappoint you though, because I never once felt anger towards our Lord.
The last words I had said before we rolled was the most heartfelt, “Oh God” that I have ever allowed to fall off of my lips in my entire life. Then my hands let go of the steering wheel. My feet left the pedals. In realizing that the situation was completely out of my control, I relinquished everything I had left, to God.
I have never made a more sincere prayer than the unspoken words made in that prayer, that day, at that moment.
He answered every single unsaid word.
I lived. We lived. I got to come home to my kids that day.
There is no better gift He could have given me than wrapping us in His arms as my truck tumbled down the freeway to its ultimate death.
I was never angry. I couldn’t be angry after all He had done for me. I simply didn’t understand. I didn’t understand what He wanted from me. We were doing EVERYTHING right. Why, why was He always given us another speed bump to climb?
Of course, I worded these feelings about as articulately as I worded that prayer that day. I didn’t really know that I had even spoken them in my mind until I already had my answer. My answer was that I was mistaken interest for commitment.
I was interested in bettering our lives. I was interested in losing weight and quitting smoking. I was interesting in eating right and working to improve my overall health. I was interested in reaching my goals…. I was interested in reaching my God. I was interested in His plan for me.
I was not committed.
Commitment is the lighthouse of focus we need to stop treading water. To stop simply drifting aimlessly through our lives. To stop being rudderless.
I have never handed over control to God like I had that day immediately before we began rolling. I had never once thrown myself at the mercy of our Lord with such faith, such certainty, such peace with His plan unfolding.
I have never been truly committed.
That’s when it hit me what He has wanted all along. All He wanted was my unwavering certainty and peace in His plan. All He wanted was my commitment.
After realizing that, I realized that commitment was the cornerstone of focus I had been searching for all along in everything I was failing at. My health goals. My finance goals. Everything was lacking the most basic component of all… commitment.
So… I crafted a new game plan; to hand over the wheel, to move my feet off of the pedals, to simply go with the roll, knowing with unwavering certainty that His plan will prevail.
It’s a little amusing how much more successful my plans have been when they are in line with His!