Jeannie Bruenning Author

The Big Black Inner Tube

As a teen, my friends and I tubed down the Crystal River. It was a summertime favorite. We’d make the forty-five minute drive, park our cars in the gravel parking lot, pay our fee, get on a big green bus and be taken up the river. 

We excitedly exited the bus and made our way to the river bank where giant black inner tubes were tossed in the water.  Laughter and cheers would erupt as all who were watching ran into the rapids in hopes of catching a tube before it caught the current and floated on without us. Once a tube was captured, we’d jump on, wiggle our butts into the center, lay our heads back and float down the river. No paddles, no oars, we were swept away by the current. 

Imagine for a moment…

…while we were on the tubes, we began paddling against the current. Or, if we had been dropped off down stream and expected to make our way upstream. That would have taken great EFFORT. Such an effort most likely would have created anxiety because we weren’t getting anywhere. We would have been frustrated. By the end of the day, we would have felt as though we had failed. In contrast, allowing the current to guide us was relaxing, enjoyable and a peaceful journey.

I have come to understand that allowing God to guide us is just like allowing the current to carry us down the river. So the question is, in everyday life, how do we know when we’re paddling upstream or allowing the current to guide us?  

It’s easier than we think! We know this by our emotions. When we are striving to make something happen, when we are exerting our own effort, we feel frustrated, anxious and the fear of failure haunts us. Learning to trust that God will provide a current to guide us creates joy, excitement and peace.

EFFORT is different than action. Typically, when we are putting forth EFFORT, we are paddling up stream. We are working really hard and going nowhere. There’s a huge difference between floating down the river and paddling up it. 

ACTION is never an effort. Action comes out of motivation and inspiration, not out of obligation.

You have an idea, you think it through. You begin to develop a plan; you ponder and explore your options. When you feel this is something worth pursuing, you have a choice: Either you believe it’s all up to you to make it happen (effort); or, you wait and watch with great anticipation. When opportunity makes itself known, you spring into action, which will never feel like effort!

When we work out of EFFORT, rarely do the results equal the time and energy we’ve invested. There is usually a cost; this can be relationships, financial, stress or even our health. Effort equals work.

excerpt from Living Unstuck

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