Day three on a recent canoe trip found my brother and I paddling leisurely out of the Minnesota Boundary Waters, looking forward to a hearty meal that we didn’t have to cook over the fire ourselves and a mocha from our favorite coffee shop to warm up our blood after weathering an unexpected cold snap in the north country. It was indeed to be a trip of unexpecteds, as the next moments would prove. My brother felt something brush against his leg. Looking down at the same moment that he swatted it away, his eyes bulged to see a furry little creature, which until that moment had been resting comfortably on the side of his calf. I heard a yelp and felt the canoe rock somewhat violently. “A mouse! A mouse in the canoe! It was on my leg!” He looked around wildly and flung his legs wide to straddle the gunwales and get them out of harms way. I craned my head from the front of the boat, and caught a glimpse of movement along the small crack where metal concealed the styrofoam floater at the stern. Our four-legged friend obviously was not enjoying the water that had begun to flood his home back there. I maneuvered around until I was sitting backwards in the canoe, keeping an eye on that crack and giving my brother some level of protection from a counter-attack. I paddled backwards and willed the canoe to move faster through the water as my brother declared his intentions to abandon ship if the mouse made a second appearance. I deemed it rather a miracle that he hadn’t tipped us all into the water at the first, certain I wouldn’t have kept my head so well if I had been the one in the rear. But the next time he would jump, and all of us–boat, gear, mouse and me–would go over with him.
The mouse seemed to consider itself a long-term resident of that canoe. It wouldn’t vacate when we reached shore, even after incessant kicks and yells, and we resolved ourselves to transporting him all the way home on top of my car. He apparently found my stratus to be quite interesting, and scampered around in circles on its roof. I feared he would choose a new home in the upholstery of my vehicle. But just as unexpectedly as he came, he went. With a shout my brother declared our mouse run off into the woods. And so my brother and I breathed a sigh of relief and headed off towards Caribou Coffee. We had survived the wilderness, and overcome our giant.
Sometimes life throws a curve-ball as unexpected as a mouse in a mid-lake canoe, and just as unavoidable. It may be tempting in these moments to abandon ship. Jumping overboard, however, will often create more problems than it solves. Sometimes the only thing to do is keep your head and keep paddling. Some days just staying in the canoe is a major victory. And who knows? Your perseverance could eventually pay off in a big way–a solution might present itself when you least expect it–and then you will taste the thrill of the overcomer, more sweet than a milk chocolate mocha.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -Jesus, John 16:33