Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. [Romans 12:2 (NLT)]
Whenever I saw the swamped canoe at the swamp/bird sanctuary, I remembered the old aluminum canoe we had at our cottage. Because it remained down at the lakefront all year long, the canoe served as winter home to the chipmunks and mice. After decades of rodents taking refuge there, the critters eventually chewed up all the foam flotation blocks in both ends of the craft. Since a boat will float only as long as it weighs less than the maximum amount of water it displaces, those empty chambers didn’t affect the canoe if it remained upright and relatively dry. But, if the craft capsized, its empty chambers would rapidly fill with water and, with the extra weight, sink. Knowing how easily the canoe could sink made us extra cautious—it was used only when the water was calm, no one deliberately tipped it, and lifejackets were required.
Sometimes, however, we’re closer to sinking than we know. Several years ago, we were camping by a small lake when my son, husband, and father-in-law decided to rent a small row boat and go fishing. At noon, they pulled the boat ashore and returned to our campsite to eat. After lunch, the fellows returned to their boat and rowed out onto the lake. When their feet got wet, they realized the boat was taking on water and started bailing. The water poured in faster than they could empty it, the boat sunk lower into the water, and they quickly rowed back and pulled the boat ashore. While gathering their fishing gear, my husband discovered that the boat’s drain plug was missing. My father-in-law, who’d been hesitant to leave the boat unattended during lunch, had decided to outsmart any would-be thieves by removing its plug and sticking it in his pocket. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten to reinstall the plug after lunch. Rather than any would-be thieves, they were the ones who got wet!
Boats don’t sink because of the water around them—they sink because of the water that gets into them. In the same way, Christians are meant to live in this sinful world without any of the world’s sins seeping into us. When the world finds its way into our lives, things like fear, anxiety, immorality, deceit, anger, pride, envy, selfishness, and greed do their very best pull us down and drown us. Like the boat’s plug, God’s word can keep the world from getting into our lives and affecting us. Like the buoyancy blocks in a canoe, our faith in Jesus will keep us from sinking even when our lives turn upside down. And, like a life jacket, the Holy Spirit will keep us afloat until we safely reach shore.
Let us always remember that Simon Peter only began to sink when he took his eyes off the Lord!