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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

Kayaks, Jesus, and the Lost Lifejacket

“Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I believe God reveals the practical nature of the beautiful truths found in His Word through everyday moments of life. That’s where most of us need them anyway, and where I believe he most often speaks if we’re paying attention. I found the truths above from 1 Thessalonians wildly displayed last summer on a kayaking excursion with my friend Alison. Only my Jesus could use a kayak and a lost lifejacket to reveal himself, but that is his mysterious way.

Alison is fairly new to her faith and is still learning how to live life in relationship with Jesus. To witness her journey is such a gift because I get an up-close and personal seat to witness God revealing himself, letting her know that he is present and listening. For the most part Alison understands her need to pray and talk about her struggles and future with Jesus. It’s the small day-to-day stuff that seems to feel “too trivial” for her to talk with him about. Still, I encourage her to share all aspects of life, and apparently, God wanted her to see this as well.

One of my favorite summer activities in recent years is kayaking. I absolutely love it! There is a small 85-acre lake close to my house that has been the stage for some of my most profound conversations with God over the past few years. I’ve shared so many of the lessons that I’ve learned out on the water with Alison, so I thought going out together would be a fun way for us to bond before she headed off to grad school.

It was a beautiful summer morning and the sun was glistening on the water as we arrived. The kayaks are free to take out where I live, but you have to wear a required lifejacket, so we obliged and paddled off. As we sat, each in our own bright red kayak, the water was so calm and peaceful that we decided to remove our lifejackets and float for a while as we talked.

Our talking quickly turned into competitiveness as we came upon a narrow portion of the lake that beckoned us to race to its end. It was glorious, the wind in our hair, our muscles burning and the water splashing all around! I honestly don’t remember who won because as we reached the end, I noticed that Alison’s lifejacket was missing. “Ugh, I’m going to have to pay for that!” was my very first selfish thought.

When Alison realized the lifejacket was missing she was visibly distressed. It had apparently fallen out of her kayak while we were racing. As we scanned the water that lay behind us, the probability of us finding this shiny, black lifejacket in water that looked like glass seemed impossible. Still, she wanted to try.

God quickly got ahold of my heart. The irritation I felt over having to pay for the lifejacket was replaced with love for my friend, who I truly wanted to be able to rest and have an enjoyable morning on the lake with me. So I found myself praying.

I prayed that Alison could relax and enjoy the rest of her time on the water. I thanked God that we had this opportunity together and I rejoiced that I had the ability to replace the lifejacket if needed. Additionally, I added, “Lord, I know this is a big lake, but could you use this situation to show Alison that you are here and that you do care about the small things in life. Could you help us find the lifejacket?”

I didn’t say a word to Alison about my prayer as we paddled back. I just sat back waiting to see what God might do. There were a few moments when Alison got excited thinking she saw something along the shoreline in the weeds, but it always turned out to be nothing. Then it happened. Across the lake, quite literally about 50 yards away, my eyes caught a glimpse of something shimmering in the water. Now this in and of its self is miraculous because I didn’t have my glasses on and couldn’t really see anything clearly. But still, I caught a glimpse.

I yelled out to Alison, “head over that way!” as I waved and pointed to what I thought I saw in the water. Immediately, she darted across the water, moving faster and faster, with the intensity on her face growing. Reaching her destination, she thrust her hands into the water and with a grin a mile wide, she held above her head with both hands, water falling on her head and shoulders, the lost lifejacket. It brought me to tears.

As Alison victoriously made her way back, she told me, “I can’t believe we found this!” I smiled and said, “Well, didn’t you pray about it?” She gave me a goofy look, “Well no, it’s just a lifejacket, why would I pray about that?” I chuckled to myself, knowing God was at work and said, “I prayed about it. You wanna know why? Because God cares about everything, and I knew you’d have a terrible time if we didn’t find it so I asked him to help us.” She looked at me puzzled, “really?”

“Yes,” I said. “Really.”

For Your Reflection…

Kayaking out on the lake last summer was the opportunity that God used to reveal several truths to Alison and me. I saw and in real time how to put to use the truths found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 as I prayed, rejoiced and expressed thankfulness. Alison got to see up close and personal that God really does care about EVERY DETAIL OF HER LIFE.

What about you? Where is God trying to get your attention in the everyday details of life to let you know that he is present and listening?


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