Three times each week I go kayaking off Solo Point on the Puget Sound. I paddle a 5-mile route around Ketron Island and back. It takes about an hour to make the trip and by the time I’m done—I am smoked!
The “easiest part” of this PT session is when I paddle just a few feet of the shore of the island. It’s easier to paddle close to shore because I get a sense of movement as trees, rocks, and landmarks pass by. Watching these things go by assures me that I’m gaining ground and making progress in my journey.
Far more difficult is paddling across open water from the northern tip of Ketron Island back to Solo Point. It’s not because I’m battling currents or fighting waves. Paddling across open water is more difficult because I cannot detect any progress with the strokes of my paddle. I look ahead and see the distant shore. But not even 100 strong stokes of the paddle seems to bring the shore any closer. The Kayak creates a small wake. But there are no landmarks along the way. The water is featureless and gives no sense of movement or making progress—even though I’m expending tremendous energy. I am forced to push and pull every stroke in faith—faith that each stroke is propelling me forward, even though it appears I’m getting nowhere.
Yet, each time I set out—I also make it back. Even though I couldn’t see any progress, each stroke was driving me closer home. I was right to believe in my efforts.
Working Through Our Journey
This has a spiritual application to our lives. For, all of us are saddled with tasks that seem to stretch on into infinity. Perhaps we will never actually see the task to its completion, but must hand the work off to a successor. Yet we are working our tails off. We push steadily toward the objective, day after day, yet we can discern no movement and no progress. The journey is too long and the pace is too slow for us.
In order to maintain our strength and perseverance, we must do our work in faith—believing that our labors are accomplishing something and gaining us ground.
Completing a college degree program may be one of those never-ending tasks. Raising children is certainly another—and leaves many a frustrated parent wondering if his or her child will ever grow up to be a productive adult. Climbing a densely forested mountain is another tough and long journey. It not only requires many uphill steps and offers little or no inspiring vistas for the climber. The climber cannot stop to appreciate or even measure the progress he’s made.
And guess what? We finally get there! We reach the shore, which justifies the faith we had when we couldn’t see any progress. Each of our efforts is effective.
Perhaps nothing is more difficult than trying to measure than what we do for the Lord. As servants of Christ, you and I seek to be a blessing to others. But how can we measure the impact of the encouragement we share, the sorrows we bear, or the joy we bring? Can I report to my Commander how many units of joy and peace I’ve bestowed to others or how many measures of sorrow I’ve relieved? Those things are known only to God.
And how can I discern my own spiritual progress and growth? Honestly, most times I feel like I’m getting nowhere in my spiritual development. But God sees and knows. And He calls each of us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). He knows the number of our deeds and understands the depth of our sacrifices. He sees the secret battles we fight and the hidden hurdles we overcome to do His will. And He is able to reward us eternally for all we’ve done for Him in this life.
Are you discouraged because you cannot see any progress or accomplishment in your life? Place yourself and all you do in the Lord’s hands. He will help you bear the burden and give you strength to finish the race. Trust Him that you’re making progress and gaining ground.
“Commit your way to the Lord,” wrote King David, “Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (Ps. 37:5-6).
Paul the apostle wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil for the Lord is never in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Dear Father in heaven, into Your loving and powerful hands I commit my work and my future. Please accept me through Jesus Christ and make me a blessing to others and a joy to You. Amen.