When I was a youth minister in SC I took a group of young people whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River in NC. I had been rafting once before, on a guided trip down the Ocoee River in TN. On this particular trip, we had a family with us that were, all of them, expert rafters. Because of this, I was told we didn't need to have guides for the trip. It ended up being a big mistake. Once we arrived at the river, I found out that the family each had their own individual conveyances for the trip. None of them would be with us in the rafts. Too late to do anything about it, we jumped in the rafts and took off.
I knew it was going to be a long trip when, on the first turn, I was thrown off the raft into the cold water. After the initial shock of hitting the water, I immediately got my body into the position taught to me on my previous rafting trip. The position is designed to minimize injury. It worked to some extent, although my behind dragged the rocky bottom and made it uncomfortable to sit for a while. I lost my shoes, hat and sunglasses on that dunk and we had barely started. I finally rejoined the rafts and we got on our way again. Things went smoothly for most of the rest of the trip and I assumed our troubles were over. I was wrong.
Near the end of the trip, our group hit a trouble spot. We came around a corner and saw many people in the water with empty rafts surrounding them. The people on the shore were yelling at us to do something but I couldn't hear them over the noise of the people in the water and the river itself. The next thing I know, our raft hits and rock and goes completely vertical. Our entire group was thrown into the water. Having been there already, I remained calm.
Unfortunately, others did not. When I surfaced, I came up near one of my girls and she was, in a word, freaking out. I reached out and grabbed her and, while trying to speak words of comfort to her, started dragging her to shore. Once we got everyone out of the water we found that everyone was safe and sound. The rafts were secure and waiting for us to return to the trip. At that point it was made known that the end of the journey was right around the next bend and that it could be walked. With that revelation, half of our party chose to hoof it the rest of the way. They had had enough of the water.
The few that decided to join me in finishing in the rafts mounted up and we headed for the finish line. We were tired, sore and still had a 3-4 hour drive back to SC. Needless to say, it was a memorable day. Despite all the drama that ensued that day, I can't wait for another opportunity to do some whitewater rafting.
This past Sunday, our Sunday morning class at church is continuing its discussion about the Call of God on an individuals life. Our instructor has begun to talk about the Holy Spirit a lot of late. He is concerned that we, as Christians, are not tapping into the power that is available to us. He is concerned that we are too terrified to fully submit to the Call that is on our lives. I would have to say that he is 100% correct on that point.
Fully submitting to the will or call of God on our lives is like rafting down a raging river. Sometimes you hear the instructions of the guide and sometimes it seems as if there's no guide at all. Sometimes you feel confident you are conquering the river. Sometimes you fall out of the raft and into the dangerous rapids. You have no control. There is no steering. The water takes you where it will. It pulls you under and then lets you up for air. The rocks bruise and scratch your body as you continually fight for life. Death, at this point, is a very real possibility. Finally, the current lets up and you are able to crawl to shore a battered heap of wet exhaustion.
These thoughts are incomplete and I may visit them again sometime. I guess what I'm trying to say is do we stay safe on the shore or jump in and see where the current takes us? Right now, I'm on the shore. I've nearly drowned in the past so I don't trust the guide anymore. But every now and again, I stick my big toe in the water and wonder if I really should jump back in the water.