Is what you are doing today getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow? If not, you may want to consider learning how to build a better boat.
TOUGH LIFE LESSONS SERIES
Welcome to Mindful Monday and the continuation of the series 5 TOUGH LIFE LESSONS FROM 2018 THAT WILL MAKE 2019 BETTER. We are working through those difficult but invaluable lessons life often teaches us the hard way. I hope is that in taking the time to learn from our mistakes, regrets, and failures, we will approach this year stronger, wiser, and better.
Our first life lesson began with learning to trust God despite our circumstances. The second lesson showed us how to choose courage over comfort. Last week we learned the importance of identifying and choosing people in our tribe. Do you see a pattern in these lessons? We began first with our relationship with God, next with our relationship with ourselves, and then we moved to how we connect with others. The last two lessons are about moving forward. How can we take what we have learned and practically apply it to make our lives full of meaning and purpose?
IT STARTS WITH A BOAT
Before I share this lesson, I need to give credit to a few people. First, my husband. He is a huge Kenny Chesney fan. I do not know where this came from, because for the forty years I have known him, he has never been a fan of country music. However, a few years ago he stumbled upon “No Shoes Radio,” and that was it for him. He played me song after song, pointing out the lyrics and how he could relate to them. He loves everything from the fun island beach tunes to the tearjerkers about the father watching his baby girl grow up and leave home. For Father’s Day, the kids and I took him to a Kenny Chesney concert. We rolled our eyes and snickered our way through it…he was in heaven! 😉
Why do I mention my husband and Kenny Chesney? About two months after my surgery at a really low point in my life, we were riding in the car listening to (guess what?) “No Shoes Radio.” I was exhausted, fighting the pain, and throwing myself a little pity party when this song came on the radio. Please take the time to listen and read the lyrics (Song by Kenny Chesney/Lyrics by Travis Meadows and Liz Rose).
Has that ever happened to you? A song just pierces your heart because someone is singing exactly what you are experiencing and feeling? During my recovery, I struggled to breathe. Literally. They had to collapse both of my lungs to perform the surgery, so each intake of breath was sharp and painful.
I breathe in, I breathe out.”“Better Boat” by Kenny Chesney
When I first heard these words sitting in the car that day, I was completely undone. How did Kenny Chesney know that each breath I took was an excruciating effort? Can you imagine my husband’s pure joy when I kept asking him to replay the song so I could get all the lyrics? Grinning from ear to ear, he kept saying, “I told you. This guy has some good stuff.”
So, I have to thank Kenny Chesney as well for putting to words and music a life lesson I didn’t really know I needed so desperately to learn. Because I guess it is only when you go through a storm do you know how well your boat is built: “What ain’t working, what’s still hurtin’.”
WISE AND FOOLISH BUILDERS
Build a better boat. What does this simple yet profound statement mean?
Jesus teaches his followers about this concept of building using a short parable. Although he refers to constructing a house, the principle still applies.
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)
I think what we often miss when we read this short parable is that Jesus straightforwardly tells us that storms will be a part of our life experience. Notice the wording: not “if” rains, torrents, and floodwaters come, but “when.” Just like we cannot control the weather, we cannot control what circumstances will we face on the journey of life. We may face emotional/mental floodwaters, physical torrents, relational hurricanes, and financial storms…but we are not helpless and hopeless. We can prepare. We can build. We can fortify.
HOW TO BUILD A BETTER BOAT
Although taking proactive steps to prepare our boat BEFORE the storm hits is the ideal situation, unfortunately, it does not always happen in that order. Sometimes it is in the midst of the storm that we notice the leaks, the rotted wood, and the torn sails. That’s okay. We can still learn from the experience as the song reminds us, “What ain’t working, what’s still hurtin’…”
My faith was the anchor that kept me steady in the storm, but there were other issues with my boat that needed my attention after the storm had passed. The only way I could move forward and build a better boat for the next stormy season was to critically and honestly assess the damage.
That is the best way for you to move forward and build a better boat as well.
THREE SIMPLE BUILDING STEPS
From both the song and the teaching of Jesus, here are the steps I think we can take to build better boats to withstand any storm that this year may bring us.
- Live on the solid rock of God’s truth.
- Learn what you can and cannot control.
- Lean on the wisdom, love, and support of family and friends.
LIVE ON THE SOLID ROCK OF GOD’S TRUTH
The most important part of any building project is the foundation. Time and time again the Bible teaches us to build our lives on the truth found in God’s Word. It is a safe and secure solid rock that will not move or shake with our changing circumstances, fluctuating feelings, or shifting cultural climate. Psalm 127:1 reminds us that “Unless the Lord builds [a house], the work of the builders is wasted.” Our blueprints for building a better boat begin with living our lives on the absolute truth found in God’s Word.
LEARN WHAT YOU CAN & CANNOT CONTROL
“Now and then I let it go around the waves I can’t control…” We cannot control the waves. We need to let “God do what he does,” by trusting Him to keep us safe even in the midst of the storm. Yes, we can and should prepare by securing our sails and battening down the hatches, but need also to recognize that it is God who remains in ultimate control. When we refuse to let go and let God, we will continue to have faulty boats incapable of bringing us safely to shore.
LEAN ON THE WISDOM & SUPPORT OF FAMILY & FRIENDS
I know that I would have never been able to recover and build a better boat if I did not have “friends to
YOU CAN LEARN TO BUILD A BETTER BOAT
As you reflect on the storms of the past year or even begin to see new ones forming on the horizon, you have a choice on this Mindful Monday. And so I. We can drop the anchor of our faith to keep us steady, we can use the truth of God’s word as our blueprint, and we can rely on the wisdom and support of others to build a better boat.