by Kris Amundson
My family and I recently returned from a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. We have been there many times, with each trip providing a new experience. One of the things I look forward to most about these trips is simply laying in a hammock, watching the clouds float by while the sun shines down on me. On this trip though, I was looking forward to something different. I longed to hear the voice of God whisper to me, like one human to another. I wanted to lie in the hammock and just hear God’s voice.
What ended up happening was much different. This trip took us farther into the Boundary Waters than we, as a family, had been before. As I summed up the trip on our way home, I whittled it down to this: a lot of wind, a lot of water, a lot of waves, a lot of bugs, a lot of work. There really was no opportunity to just “be”-to just wait quietly for God to speak as I so badly wanted Him to do. With each passing day on our trip, I became a little bit more saddened that I was unable to hear God because I was so busy with the work that is required when in the Boundary Waters. When it was time to pack up and leave, my heart sank as I realized I would not be hearing God’s whisper on this trip. After we made it back home, I began to reflect on our adventure. I realized that God did speak to me-just not the way I had imagined or hoped. What I heard was the voice of God, not in a whisper but in many different ways, as only God could do.
Thinking back to my summary of this trip, God was there speaking to me the entire time. The wind-it never ceased to blow-sometimes gently but mostly with a force that could spell trouble when one is canoeing. This was God reminding me of just how powerful He is. And water—in the form of the beautiful lakes we paddled but also in the rain that fell everyday. Water can be so devastating if there is too much of it, yet it can be cleansing as well, God was telling me that He creates the beauty we see and that we are purified because of His love, but at the same time, all that goodness can be washed away in an instant. God spoke to me through the white-capped waves as they became increasingly more difficult to paddle through and caused us to paddle straight into them so as not to flip our canoe. This temporarily pulled us away from our destination and left us alone, out in the open water. I was reminded of times when God has become angry with His people, consequently pouring out His wrath upon them, but I was also reminded of the storm that Jesus calmed for His disciples. In the midst of terrible wind and high waves, God was there to calm everything down. Hmmm, isn’t God there to calm my personal storms? Yep—every time. Then there was the rainbow with every color so brilliantly visible. Ahh, God’s promise- given thousands of years earlier- to never destroy us through floods. God was telling me that yes, there has been a lot of rain and water but that I would not be overcome by it.
The bugs—the worst I had experienced in the Boundary Waters. The constant swarm of mosquitoes and biting black flies. God was reminding me that He created everything—even the little things we find annoying (like bugs) for a reason. I still don’t know what that full reason is, but on this trip, I heard God speak to me. He was reminding me of sin. It swarms around us all the time and can consume every bit of us if we are not careful. We can choose to sit back and do nothing but complain about all the wrong in the world (much like we complain about the bugs), or we can protect ourselves with God’s Word-like we protect ourselves from the bugs by using bug spray.
God spoke to me through eagles. There was at least one on each lake. I was not only reminded of God’s majesty but of His outstretched arms protecting us. The eagles were amazing to watch. They soared high in the sky going back and forth, as if on guard. Isn’t that what God does for me? He is constantly watching over me. Before the first leg of our paddle out, an eagle flew from a tree and gave what seemed like a low “fly-by”—a way of saying good-bye. God spoke to me through that eagle, giving me the sense that we would be okay. (I was dreading the swirling waters at the bottom of some falls we had to canoe through, along with the wind, which was once again blowing with force, and the mile long, mud-filled portage we would have to cross.) As we dipped our paddles into the lake after the mile portage, I noticed yet another eagle soaring close by us. There again, I heard God. This time, welcoming me to a calmer lake. God had seen me through rough waters and a tough portage, and I came out okay on the other side. He is so faithful that way.
On our final paddle to the landing the following day, God spoke to me through the sheer beauty of the Boundary Waters. He filled the sky with sun and that perfect hue of blue. The wind, for the first time on the trip, was at our backs. God reminded me that life is not all smooth-as-glass water to paddle through. There will be wind and water and waves and bugs-oh so many bugs. Life is a lot of work. I did not hear a whisper from God on this trip, what I heard was loud and clear. God is with me through it all- faithful to the end.