Summer is now over. Vacations have come and gone. Memories survive and serve to inspire us. Is there a family summer outing you might share at this Sunday’s Lunch that could motivate your family to reflect on God’s presence in your lives?
It’s easy for me to recall one unforgettable memory. Presbytera Marinda, along with our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, joined me and 40 parishioners one Saturday in August a couple of years ago. We went whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River in downtown Columbus, Georgia. Using rubber rafts, we traveled down the two-plus mile river course after learning basic safety precautions. During a second trip that afternoon, the river’s dam was opened, and nearly 30 of us ventured on the same water route… this time with “high water/high speed”, whipping rain, thunder, and lightning.
Thinking about my two raft trips, I am reminded that with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in charge, we get a white-water-rafting kind of experience throughout life. Far from a dull float downstream, life is filled with adventures like my hang-onto-your-hat, exhilarating, get-wet rides.
In our lives, we often seek to control our own agenda and keep everything under our own power. Our Lord enables us another kind of ride altogether – a journey where we are empowered by our “trust in God, Who raised Him [Jesus] from the dead and gave Him glory, so that [our] faith and hope are set on God.” (1 Peter 1:21). Simply put, Jesus can guide us on a trip as exhilarating and exciting as the white-water rafting rides my parishioners and I enjoyed.
What lessons do “white-water rafting” offer? I learned that the rules of expert rafting guides can offer safety to Christians who are searching for the best way to stay afloat in an unfriendly world. On the Colorado River, some rafting companies post “Five Rules for White-Water Rafting:”
- Go with the flow and don’t get addled. When we come to know that Jesus sets both the course and the current in our lives, we as Christians can relax and feel confident about the ultimate outcome of our journey. No matter how swift the current grows or how meandering the course may seem, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ never loses track of us.
- Lean into the rocks. Rocks can be our friends. Obstacles, apparently threatening and dangerous, also provide the force that moves us along. By leaning into the rocks, instead of frantically trying to paddle away from them, the guiding current can more swiftly and efficiently navigate our raft safely past the threats and fears.
- When you go into turbulence, go feet first but toes out. When you fail, fail forward and fail fast. Don’t be afraid of failure. Our failures are best seen, not as exercises in “trial and error,” but as “trial and success.”
- If worse comes to worst, let go of everything, and eventually you’ll come up. Our life rafts, our human-created flotation devices, aren’t the only things that can float. If you completely tip over, don’t struggle to find the boat. Remember you can float, too, so get out from under the boat and let the water carry you to the surface. Once you are up and breathing again, then you can worry about finding something else to hang on to.
- You’re here because of the thrill. So enjoy it! Life isn’t designed to be a predictable, safe course. If it were, none of us would want to go on it. When you are out of control, the ride can become terrifying. But when you let our Savior, Jesus Christ be in control, not even the wildest stretch of white water should be feared… only enjoyed! And yes, consider going through life white-water rafting with our Lord Jesus Christ!
Closing Scripture to Ponder
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)