Kayaking is fun. I especially love the feeling of being pushed around by the waves. You’re in control, but not fully. You’re safe, but not totally.

I took a kayaking course recently, and the most important skill I learnt was how to rudder. Ruddering is a technique of changing one’s direction without stopping the boat completely.

Basically, you stick your paddle into the waters near the rear of your kayak; change the direction of the paddle, and you change the direction you’re heading.

Only with constant corrections will we get to our destination.

Ruddering helps you to steer the boat in the right direction as you continue moving forward. It’s an easier and more effective way to change directions, compared to other strokes.

The key is focus. When you don’t pay attention, the boat veers off course. Every single time, primarily due to the current and the waves. So if you don’t do anything, your kayak will move away from its original position.

Only with constant corrections will we get to our destination.

It’s pretty common to hear people testifying about their victory in overcoming a certain sin in their life. These testimonies bring great comfort and encouragement to those who hear them. It’s good to tell, and hear, of God’s goodness and power.

But they’re all so nicely packaged.

It almost feels like once you have emerged victorious from a single struggle, that will be the last you see of that sin. It seems the message is that others can instantly see sin kicked out of their lives, and so can you! All you need to do is overcome it once and you will be invincible thereafter!

But … that wasn’t what I experienced.

My Christian journey has been littered with so many struggles and painful encounters. Some were a little easier to handle, others took more time and energy.

Some struggles have made themselves pretty comfortable in my life. They come back to visit me from time to time.

How long will I have to deal with them? Psalm 119:112 tells me: Maybe longer than I’d like.

I am determined to keep your principles, even forever, to the very end. (Psalm 119:112, NIV)

I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
(Psalm 119:112, KJV)

The Psalmist uses the word “determined” to describe the posture needed to uphold Godly principles in his life. Pursuing a life that is blameless before God is not going to be effortless.

Likewise, the King James Version describes this act as the inclination of one’s heart. This illustrates how the natural position of one’s heart is not towards God or His laws. It is unnatural for one to be yielded to God. In fact, it takes a deliberate effort to do so.

The world has its currents and its waves, threatening to push us wherever its agendas lie. What we learn in this world, we often need to unlearn when we enter the Kingdom of God. What we are taught in the Bible always seems to go against what is taught in this world.

The world tells us we are here to accumulate and enjoy the material things. God tells us nothing else matters that with all we have, we are to love God and His people (Mark 22:36-39).

The world tells us you have the right to live however you choose. God tells us that those who surrender our lives to Him will gain much more (Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Matthew 16:25).

My big misconception: That surrendering, laying down my life, would be a once-in-a-while thing.

Then there are the grey areas – the brackish water, the intertidal zones where the currents collide and things aren’t quite so clear. For example, we know that it is good to pursue excellence at work, but that becomes dangerous when this pursuit comes at the expense of your relationship with God. Just one of many dilemmas we face trying to do things God’s way.

So many undercurrents, all trying to push us away from our goal of leading a Christ-like life. And just like on my kayak, I realised if you don’t do anything, you’ll get swept away. It requires constant effort.

I remember a day when I was frustrated with God – questioning Him why I was still struggling with the same sins I was two, three years ago. I thought the struggle with this sin wouldn’t haunt me after I surrendered it to Him. Even if it does, shouldn’t it become easier to pull through? Why do I have to constantly struggle and realign my life?

My big misconception: That surrendering, laying down my life, would be a once-in-a-while thing. That I could just point my kayak at the start and sail straight on forever, or at worst only have to readjust my boat every now and then – say at my annual church conference and camp, or perhaps at some really awesome Sunday service.

Electronic devices: Some (I’m looking at you, iPhone) need to be recharged daily. Others, like a decent bluetooth mouse, can go months without seeing a wall plug.

I thought I fell in the latter group. I never thought of it as an ongoing, constant affair. I was so wrong.

We have to realign our lives with God’s on a regular basis – daily, if need be – because if we get too casual with our walk, when we allow other things to come into our hearts, we drift. And a slight deviation can sometimes bring you to a whole other place. Once we stop moving towards God, we begin to move away. There is no such thing as being stationary – it’s not a Christian walk if you’re not moving.

There is no truly still sea. Your kayak is moving – the question is whether you’re in control or not. We are either moving away or towards God.

Which way are you going?