“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)
I have never made an official bucket list.
And I'm not sure that I ever will. But that's probably obvious already.
It's not that I don't believe in setting goals and working toward them. It's not that I don't want to visit places and see things, experience things, read books, learn, grow, achieve. It's not that I don't believe in planning, or anticipation, or choosing, prioritizing, sacrificing, discipline.
About a month ago, after much discussion, my husband and I decided to buy a boat. We looked at a lot of different kinds of boats. We talked about form, and function. We talked about activities, comfort and convenience. We talked about getting the family out of the living inside and into the loving outside. I don't always know if we're a good match for each other. He's a bigger and better kind of guy. I'm a making-do, watch the dollars kind of girl. In the end, we bought a pontoon boat. A combination fishing/cruising boat with a half-camper canvas. We didn't buy new, but we agreed that we bought well.
That was on paper.
Then we took the boat out on a lake. It was a little windy. It was a little cool. It was a little rainy. I took a ton of pictures. My daughter's hat blew off and we picked it up out of the water with the fishing net. We played with the canvas enclosure, putting it up, tying it off, taking it down. We anchored and fished. We had lunch. We had a great day cruising on the lake.
Then we took the boat out on a river. A big river. With shoals, and shallows, and islands, and rocks. And waves. And wind. And other boats. My husband drove. I kept my eyes on the map, trying to figure out our location worrying about changing water depths and hidden obstacles. I didn't understand why that favorite Army guy of mine kept looking at me, kept checking on me, and finally came right out and asked me if I wanted to sell the boat. Because obviously, it wasn't what I thought it would be.
I had to think about that.
Paper versus reality. Hmm...
The lake was safe. It was deep, so there was no chance of hitting bottom. It was wide enough to turn and move at will. We could tuck ourselves into an inlet out of the wind and sit peacefully on water that was smooth as glass.
The river was unpredictable. Channels of ninety feet and deeper butted right up against shoals of five feet. The current was fast, with waves that sometimes came up over the deck. There didn't seem to be anywhere to hide from the wind. It was full of islands, like God had thrown a handful of boulders and earth and seeds into the stream.
Safe versus unpredictable. Hmm...
Years ago, if I'd made a bucket list, it would have included lots of adventures. Lots of excitement. I remember thinking I'd like to try skydiving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, I'd like to homestead in the wilds of Alaska, I'd like to backpack across Europe. I wanted to go on safari in Africa. I was fearless.
We have taken the boat out several more times in the last month. Some on the river, and we've tried a couple of other lakes in the area. Honestly, some trips are definitely more relaxing than others. My ideal boat trip is to sit in the front of the boat snapping pictures while my husband drives - and I especially like pictures with mirrored water. See, my husband's got my back. He's slowly bringing me up to speed on our trips, baby steps and all. I've enjoyed all of our trips. In different ways, for different reasons.
I wouldn't want to have missed the look on my favorite Army guy's face when the camping gear we had stowed at the front of the boat for a weekend on an island in that unpredictable river, came floating back to us because we had just taken a monster wake over our bow. I wouldn't want to have missed my daughter's ear-to-ear grin when my husband gave her at turn at driving. I wouldn't want to have missed the satisfying sound of casting a line out and hearing it drop into the water - almost where I aimed it. I wouldn't want to have missed watching a fish the size of my arm glide at the edge of a weed bed, paralleling the shore.
I'm not sure a bucket list would include high-octane adventure anymore - but it would certainly include moments like these.
I think about my Christian life - safe vs unpredictable, paper vs reality... I'm not sure I always want to stray out of the safe and predictable, but I know better; and I know it's ok. God's got my back.
"He'll [Aslan] be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”