Have you ever been canoeing on a small lake in the early afternoon? The great outdoors feels like a small, quiet hideaway, where the trees bend over to block the shore and you keep your eyes open for black bears. The birds sing quietly; there are flies, but even they can’t take away the bliss. Have you ever stopped paddling in the stillness and trailed your hands through the water, fingertips skimming the cool surface on a hot midsummer day? It’s beautiful and wild and serene.
If life is like a lake then we’re all tipping our canoes.
Transgender, homosexuality, pornography, prostitution. Greed, theft, poverty. War, murder, gangs. Free speech and hate speech. It’s an uncomfortable lake we’re paddling in. And most of us forgot our training.
No standing, even when stopping to admire the scenery. No shouting, especially while standing. Those people always tip over. If you do tip, to avoid taking on water, right yourself by leaning the other way. Always wear a life jacket. Always have a buddy. Bring a bottle of water. If the winds pick up hold on tightly to both sides. If your buddy falls overboard help them back in by pulling them up slowly, while keeping your weight firmly and evenly distributed on the opposite side.
But Jesus, Jesus, now HE can canoe. He can paddle right past that dangerous inlet. He can keep the canoe balanced in any weather. He can glide straight through the worst reeds and grasses and stay perfectly upright. He knows the way to avoid the haunts of the more dangerous wildlife. He’s got the skills to pick his buddy up out of the murky waters and set them straight. But here’s the thing we’re all trying to figure out: how do we accept people but not condone their decisions?
Jesus always kept himself firmly planted in the centre. He stopped the killing stones from being thrown, died to pay for that sin himself, and moved the largest stone away in his glorious resurrection. He is a study in contrasts, a merciful savior on his lofty throne of judgement.
It’s a delicate balance, you see, between love and conviction. Lean too far either way and you end up soaked.