Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Life Preserver Analogy...
This is a little piece I wrote a couple years ago on a Sunday afternoon when I was feeling rather pensive. I came upon it again as I was looking through some old files on my computer.
Life is like the ocean; I have heard this so many times. Each person floats in the sea, trying to stay above water, but sometimes the waves become too much and they start to drag me down. I know that it is good to be in the water, that I am gaining experience, but sometimes I don’t want it to be so hard.
It seems that as soon as I get comfortable with the whole concept of swimming, the wind kicks up and the water gets really choppy. I begin to struggle against the waves and, after a few minutes, I realize how tired I am getting. As my leg muscles begin to burn and I have swallowed enough sea water that I feel like I could sink any second, I finally yell out to the ship for help. I begin to look at the waves, watching them get larger and larger, sweeping over me faster and faster, and I wonder if anyone on the ship is even listening to my cry for help.
All of the sudden—WHAM! I am blind-sided by some hard object that hits me in the side of the head. As I turn to look in the direction from which the assault came, I see a man standing on the deck of the ship holding the end of a rope, to which is attached the source of the lump on my head—a life preserver.
“What are you doing?!” I yell in anger, looking down at the now harmless floating circle. “Are you trying to kill me?” During these frustrating times I sometimes don’t recognize that what I see as another obstacle is actually a tool.
But the man on the ship, ever patient, explains, “My intention was to help you. If you had been looking this way, you would have seen the life preserver and could have grabbed onto it. Instead, your eyes were fixed on the waves right in front of you, so it hit you.”
“Why didn’t you warn me?” I retort. I refuse to believe that the bruise from the life preserver is my own fault.
“I did call to you,” he responds calmly. “But you were too busy screaming to listen. Look around you. Even now, the life preserver is floating away from you because you’re screaming at me instead of grabbing on. Stop trying to come up with your own solution to the problem. The answer is sitting right in front of you. Accept the help that is offered. Grab the life preserver and let me pull you to the boat instead of focusing on trying to overpower the waves by yourself.”
Finally, it all makes sense. I realize that the fault is mine. Sometimes this process takes longer than other times. Sometimes the Lord has to throw another life preserver, sometimes he waits patiently for longer than he should have to, but sometimes I get it right and grab onto the life preserver on its way down into the water. When I catch a glimpse of the world from the Lord’s perspective I can see how my trials are actually tools to help me develop qualities that will enable me to get back to my Heavenly Father.
If we keep our gaze focused on the Lord, we will recognize a life preserver when it is thrown to us, rather than focusing on our trials and failing to see help when it is offered. Then, as the Israelites of old, we may truly “look and live.”