I have been trying to think of a name for our new canoe as all water craft have to have a name of sorts. I have had several sources of inspiration: “Surface Detail” by Iain M. Banks, “The Sentry” by Robert Crais, and “Finding God” by Larry Crabb. In Surface Detail, a story set in the far distant future of the galaxy, the Culture spaceships have complete control over their own name and often choose something that expresses their character, attitude or aim in “life”, and it is worth reading at least one of Banks’ books to have a quiet chuckle as they blaze their way through hyperspace.
Robert Crais’ character, Joe Pike, has two large red (red like my canoe) arrows tattooed into his deltoids. They point forward, reminding him to keep pressing onwards, that there is no going back. Pike is always looking out for the little guy and ain’t nobody gonna stop him. He doesn’t say much but he has mission commitment in heaps that keeps him focussed on the goal of saving the girl or solving the case or watching his partner’s back or keeping his red Jeep clean (usually all of the above).
Larry Crabb has mission commitment too but he is not an ex-assassin-turned-detective with tattoos. He is a professor at Colorado Christian University and his mission is, to put it simply, to find God, know God, love God. In his book “Finding God” there is a take-away summary point that has got me thinking:
Our deepest longings are inconsolable. The deepest pleasures in life don’t satisfy – they point us forward.
Throwing all this into the mix I have come up with a name for the canoe: Pleasures Point Us Forward, the.
Let me explain. The reasoning behind this name is for it to be a constant reminder that the “richest of fare” is yet to come and the pleasures of this world are just like those little taste samples they hand out in supermarkets. I am blessed in the here and now with a wonderful wife, two fantastic children, good health, a good quality of life, and supportive family and friends. The joy of showing D and K what it is like to paddle a canoe, scramble up rocks, build sandcastles on the beach and snuggle on the couch reading a book or watching a film know no bounds (OK, sometimes there are bounds). However, I also miss the thrill of scaling the heights of Fountain Ledge on Table Mountain (with the closest of friends), the excitement before dropping into the meat of a Class V rapid on the Zambezi, the simple joy of body-surfing at Fish Hoek beach, the precious time of family holidays across Southern Africa and celebrating Christmas with all the family with all the accumulated traditions. Sometimes I resent the passing of time, the changes to family, the distances involved. There are times when I ache for things that were and wake early in the morning in anguish over a lack of control of events. But even if I had all I wanted, which life could never provide, I am not sure I would be satisfied. As Larry Crabb says I want “rich legitimate pleasures that never end”.
The things I love (being fit enough to flash a route, linking the moves in fluid motion or dipping a paddle into a bow rudder or hanging draw to effortlessly, silently turn the boat onto the right line) are all appreciated and enjoyed, more so when they are experienced less frequently, because they are given by an all-loving God who has given us a body to live in and “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17). But I have to learn that all these pleasures and joys are mere appetisers and that the real McDonald meal deal is yet to come. I have to learn to develop a greater intimacy with Christ. I have to learn that nothing less is going to satisfy. Hence the name of the boat – Pleasures Point Us Forward, the.
Hopefully, this simple gentle reminder will help focus me, us, on the ultimate source of our fulfilment as we glide silently through a mirror-like loch or plunge into the wild water of a rapid. And to recognise that the inconsolable longings for more will remain but at least we know what they are for and where they come from.