John 8:12—Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
Thick fog was covering Seventh Lake in the Adirondacks at six o’clock in the morning when I decided to go kayaking. The lake sits between mountains, but even they were out of sight. I could only see about 25 yards in front of me—complete dense gray fog to the right and the shoreline on my left. I wanted to venture out but it was somewhat scary. As I got into the kayak, I thought about the middle of the lake. If I paddled only a short distance from the shore, I would be completely lost with no idea which direction I should go. It was strange, knowing there was nothing out there, but not totally sure. So I decide to follow the shore, staying close enough to always know where I was going. The water is perfect, smooth as glass. I head out, by myself, past familiar cottages, following the shore. The cottages ended, but I still know where I am—I’ve been along here before. Never by myself, never in the fog, never in the morning with no way to get help if I need it. The fog is so thick, but I keep paddling.
I look to the right, into the fog, and out of nowhere there is a small boat with two men fishing. I was almost on top of it before I even saw it. It just appeared. Maybe I don’t know what is out there in the middle. It is very eerie, yet I want to keep going—the water is perfect. The only sound I hear is my paddle dipping into the water. The water is very dark and I start thinking what might be below. Along the shore there are often large boulders that stick up to just below the surface and I would never see them. But I want to keep going. There isn’t much light as the sun begins to rise because of the fog and I was paddling through thick black water.
I had a goal to make it through the channel to Eighth Lake, which was a couple of miles ahead. Suddenly, in front of me was a lone loon swimming slowly along, ducking his head under looking for fish. I stop to watch him and slowly, quietly glide to within 20 feet of him while he elegantly swims along. It is beautiful. The whole picture of following the shore being like following Jesus begins to emerge in my mind. If I stay close to shore, I know my way. It doesn’t matter what is in the middle of the lake, in the fog, there is always safety in the shoreline. The shore is like following Jesus and if I follow, great things will be seen. The loon was my first encounter. After watching him a few more minutes, we both continue on.
I head for the channel with my goal still in mind. As I start through the channel, I remember that if I stay close to the edges, there were many tree stumps, downed trees, and boulders just under the surface of the very shallow water. In places the water was less than a foot deep with a sandy bottom. I am concerned that I might get caught up on any of these. By this time, I was at least a mile or two beyond any of the cottages and in the channel, alone in the middle of nowhere. And still in thick fog. I look ahead and see another loon, this one with her two babies! I start to follow them. They head straight for the opposite shore and I continue to very slowly and quietly follow. I then realize that I was getting away from the shoreline I was supposed to be trailing! Even though this was an exciting and harmless thing to follow (and it was fun), the loons were leading me way off my path. If I continue, I would easily lose my way. Was this another “God lesson”? So I paddle back to the other side and continue. God is showing me some of his beautiful creations as I trust to follow him, even though I really don’t know what lies ahead. The unknown and possible danger is still on my right but feel He is trying to reveal more than I could ever imagine. As long as I follow the shore, and follow Him, I would be ok.
Now I had a choice—the channel opened into a wide expanse. I could continue to stay in the marked boat lane toward my goal or, since I felt like this was some metaphor for me following Jesus, I could continue along the shoreline. I decide to trust the feeling and keep close to land—into a completely wild area, away from any possible boats going through the channel, surrounded by stumps and boulders both above the water and out of sight. As I look to the right while paddling, the fog seems to get even thicker as I move along. I am feeling mildly claustrophobic, but keep moving forward, along the shoreline.
After going a little further, I decide I had been out for a long time and pick a point that I would go to before turning around and heading back to the cottage. As I reach that point, I look on the shore and amongst all the downed trees and branches, I see the biggest, most intricate and beautiful spider web I have ever seen. It must span at least four feet across. I hate spiders and webs, but this is awesome! As I look more, I see a whole “forest” of spiderwebs, all sizes and shapes, but all incredibly woven—a masterpiece museum! If I had not ventured out this way, I would have missed this amazing spectacle. The metaphor continues—just as I follow the shoreline to this wonderful surprise, Jesus also leads us where He wants us to go. If we follow, a wonderful surprise also awaits us! I had to surrender my goal of making it to Eighth Lake because of the long sidetrip, but maybe that’s part of the story.
I turn around and head back. As I paddle, the fog is beginning to burn off and not only can I see the incredible mountains around me and the crystal clear water below, but I can see the full moon high in the sky as the completely round, fog filtered sun is rising. It is as if the moon shows what was and the sun stands for the new to come. Since I am so excited about all I have been experiencing, and my vision is a bit clearer as the fog dissipates, as I exit the channel I start to move into the middle of the lake, confident of where I am going. But then it is as if God has a sense of humor and out of nowhere, a motorboat speeds by, leaving its wake behind, creating fairly large waves against the still water. I listen and move back to the shoreline and follow it back to the cottage. People on the lake were just beginning to rise for the morning, but I had already had an experience that I will never forget!