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Most of my kids love to fish and to spend time on their grandfather’s boat. One, however, only enjoys it under certain conditions: not too hot, not too windy, and above all, not too rocky. We have learned how to work around his stipulations and when he should join in a fun fishing trip and when it is best he does not. However, we have also learned that not all of these elements are something we can control. Namely, the decisions of others: there are times other boats travel at a certain speed or in close enough proximity that their wake causes us to rock.
The scenario usually unfolds as follows: we are on the boat, having a great time. There’s a rhythm to the waves, which we have become accustomed to. All is peaceful. Then, however, another boat passes, creating a wake (“waves”), the boat we are on rocks up and down, up and down, water splashes on us, and our peace has been disrupted.
We have been affected by waves created by someone else.
Perhaps you can relate, not due to a wake left by a boat, but by a wake left by another’s decision, opinion, comment, or action. The peace you were experiencing, around you and within you, has vanished.
The most recent time my family was on the boat I watched how my husband, who was driving, handled other boats in our proximity. With precise timing, he knew exactly when to turn the boat away from the wake and when to turn it back. The result? The waves had as little affect on us as possible. There was minimal rocking, minimal splashing. Peace was maintained.
How we need someone (Someone) to help navigate us through the waves of life, the rocky relationships, the disturbed waters! How I need to know when to “turn away” from the waves coming my way and when to “turn towards” them! And how I need to know how to handle being caught off guard by the rocking and splashing caused by others!
How can we live out Romans 12:18 and Hebrews 12:14, both of which instruct us to live at peace with others, to pursue peace, if at all possible? Hannah gives us, at the very least, a starting point: prayer.
Hannah surely had a wake to navigate through, namely a “wave” by the name of Peninnah:
He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat (1 Samuel 1:2-7).
Hannah’s next move illustrates how we, too, can handle the waves brought upon us by the wake caused by others or through circumstances not of our choosing:
Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief” (1 Samuel 1:9-16).
Instead of getting rocked by the waves, annoyed at being splashed, irritated that our peace has been disturbed, may we, too, pour out our souls to the Lord. As we do, He will navigate, leading us to either: “turn towards” or “turn away,” speak up or remain silent, take action or wait upon Him.
“He gives me the agility of a deer; He enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain” (2 Samuel 22:34 NET). Whether what is in front of us is rugged terrain or rocky waters, He can enable us to negotiate, or navigate, through them.
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).
For printable reminders of these verses, please download here!