Ever find yourself “over a barrel” of your own creation?

Every year thousands of people travel to Niagara Falls on the Canadian border for an experience of a lifetime. Whether you witness the falls from the largely commercialized observation areas of the U.S side, or, the pristine unadulterated views from the “other side, it is an impressive sight to behold. Thrill seekers have always flocked to the site to attempt the impossible-to survive them. Yes, thousands have leapt, dove, waded into, and created makeshift vessels to conquer the feat.

One of these very individuals who survived her dive into the Falls in Annie Edson Taylor. She jumped into the Falls in 1901 inside a wooden barrel. She named her barrel “Queen of the Mist,” a title she had given herself. Well, unlike most, she survived, but was heard to say afterwards, “no one ought ever do that again.” Smart realization, little Miss “Queen of the Mist!”

I’ve never been much of a daredevil, but the idea that people willingly create vessels designed to ensure safety only to discover that the ride down the “falls” may not have been worth it after all, is no joke. We carelessly careen through the rapid falls of life with our own barrels of security thinking that somehow survival is guaranteed if we simply remain in our man-made barrel. Our barrels are fashioned from self-sufficiency, self-efficacy, and self-determination. But, why is it necessary to temp fate in the rough waters of life, going it alone, if only to wind up beaten and battered by our insatiable desire only to survive?

This is how it works with those of us who “thrill” at navigating life in our own vessels determined to survive solely on our ability to go it alone. First, we determine that looking out for our own interest, instead of the interests of others, is the path to life satisfaction. Second, we insulate ourselves with “barrels” of our own design created to shield us from any responsibility for irresponsible and careless choices. Third, when we fail, or encounter turbulence on our journey, we either blame others, or engage in denial of whether we created the mess of our lives at all.

Shall we step back from the precipice of the dangerous falls of life for a moment and examine a better, and more Godly, pathway to surviving life? A newer, and more reasonable approach to life begins with the realization that none of us have all the answers, or even know all the questions. Proverbs teaches us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV). The Lord will never call you to understand something that He has not gifted you with wisdom to comprehend. James teaches us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5, NIV).

What does the wisdom of God teach us about how to “lean into” God’s plan for our lives without feeling that we have to go it alone? Many are the plans in a person’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV). When God charts our course He provides wisdom to accomplish His greater good in our lives, and as a result, we give Him the glory for His handiwork. We are called to  “proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods” (1 Chronicles 16:24-25, NIV). There’s no need to create a “barrel,” leap off the cliff, and hope for the best. Our great God will hold us in the palm of His hand when we hold Him in the palm of ours.

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