A slow float, drifting lazily along on life’s journey. No cares, no agenda, just relaxing while watching the world go by. The river’s embankments are not out of reach, but we would rather just go with the flow and not step out of our proverbial boat. The currents of the day transport us onward to another place, so we would rather enjoy the views from a distance than to slow down or even stop. That would mean a delay in your day, an effort that might not even turn out to be pleasant or pretty. And so, we just stay in our raft, by ourself, and allow the movement of the current to take us.
Sometimes though, that current flows into a narrower space, and the pace picks up rapidly. Suddenly, you are faced with a looming danger, like massive boulders directly in your path. Quickly you have to make choices: do I steer this way or that, or do I scream for help? You wonder “Am I going to drown?” You’re not prepared for this danger nor do you know how to handle it well.
Our moments of tranquil peace are quickly forgotten because of a bad illness, a death in your family, a job loss, a fire or flood takes your home, your marriage is in trouble, your child has turned against you and God… all of these and countless more can directly affect how your journey flows. There comes a time when you need to paddle over to the beach to get out of the current, and take some time to get your breath back, to hurt and grieve, to process, to rest and regain your strength in order to continue on life’s path.
Most of the time we need to pay much closer attention to where that current is taking us and how we respond to its direction in order to prevent getting sucked into the dangers of some current themes – which might cause our raft to flip and tip over – dumping us out into the water’s cold, unpredictable, invisible surge.
“I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.”
Kayaking with my son on the Chattahoochee River, I experienced this exact scenario. As I watched the water swirl around a large rock that was now directly in front of me, I tried to paddle away from it, but the current carried me right into the front side of this immovable rock, and my immediate attempt to push away from it along with my weight leaning too far right, over I went. The cold fast-moving water didn’t stop just because I had flipped my kayak, but instead, it now carried me and all my ‘stuff’ along with it. The weight of the water now in the kayak pushed most of it below the surface, but I managed to hang on to the top 1/3 which stuck nearly straight up in the air. Fortunately the paddle stayed close enough to save, so then I looked to see what other items I could swiftly retrieve and saw my shorts and our backpack which contained the food and drinks, wallets, phones, cards, and car keys. Thankfully the pack was red and somehow had floated to the surface, so I grabbed it before it floated away.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.”
The river was still moving fast, with many large boulders and hidden rocks just below the surface, so I kept the partially submerged kayak directly in front of me until we could find a beach area to pull over and reassess the situation. My son, who was behind me and had witnessed the entire thing, stayed close and grabbed items from me so I could focus on just hanging on until we found a resting place. He slowly steered us toward a place where we could rest and dump out the river water. When we dragged ourselves and the kayak out of the water, both of us took a deep breath and I thanked God for my life, and yes, the backpack. You see, I had prepared for water to potentially soak important things, like phones, credit cards n driver’s licenses, my keys, and our food. As a result, they stayed dry in sealed baggies. But I hadn’t prepared for possibly getting tipped over and losing those things altogether!
Dane, my son, was the hero. He stayed with me, picked up the pieces from the kayak, got me to a resting place, and helped drain the kayak.
He represented what God does for us when we are struggling with our life’s current. It doesn’t necessarily matter where the currents are taking you, instead, just know that the Lord is there, that He is going to pick up your pieces and make sure that you get to a safe place. He will use your story, as He is using my experience, to help someone else too. Your job is just to hang on, to take the critical time you need to find a resting place, and rejuvenate. If you are hurting or got hurt, know that through Jesus, there is healing. Not just a physical kind, but that deep, emotional and mental kind that only comes through finding peace in spite of what is happening around you.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Take time to pull over. Find a place to get restored. Avoid the pitfalls of some current situations. Prepare for whatever may befall you by standing firm in faith in Jesus, reading God’s Word, and knowing who you are to Him. Know that the journey God has you on will always have moments of questions, of uneasiness, of fear or doubt, and even some genuine pain, but when you remember that there is a destination, a final outcome, and that God knows where you are in the grand scheme of your life, then trusting in Him to get you there will allow that inner peace that surpasses mans’ understanding.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Food for thought: We do not travel this world alone. God places people in our lives to encourage us. Don’t let them get away; stay in touch, find time and ways to encourage them too on their journey. Together, we are more than conquerors!
Fun facts: Kayaks were first used by the Inuit and Aleut tribes in Arctic North America, 4,000-5,000 years ago. They stretched animal skins over the frames, and sealed them with whale fat. Their primary purpose was for hunting by sneaking up on their prey on a beach.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Kayaking together on the Chattahoochee