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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rapids with God

I don’t know if you have ever participated in the incredible adventure of white water rafter, but you are seriously missing out if you haven’t. Now I am writing this as a person scared to death of open water. Especially fast, freezing rushing water! I was so paranoid I had to do a flotation test of the wet suit and vest to insure my large girth would stay above water. It worked so I got into the raft.
I guess that is my first metaphor for the Rapids with God. While it is very cool to watch God accomplish great things, it is way beyond great to be in the midst of his work. If you want a genuine, invigorating, never will you be the same experience for your life you need to get into the raft.
The beginning of this rafting trip was pretty serene. The air was cool, the sky was clear, the sound of water was calming, and the guide was calmly giving us very important instructions on what to do through the expected and what to do if something unexpected took place. Little did we know that the later instructions would become so important!
My second metaphor is simple this, pay attention to God’s instructions. They are not only effective for the calm parts of the journey but they are crucial in catastrophe and will enable you to finish the journey.
Within just a few minutes we saw the rapids coming toward us. Excitement, fear, and determination took hold as the guide shouted out the lesson reminders and told us exactly what to do to negotiate this particular set of rapids. We would soon learn that there are a variety of different rapids and the same approach is not to be used if one wants to stay dry (relatively speaking!). We discovered this very quickly as the second set of rapids came upon us before we could finish celebrating our victory over the first set. This set was far more formidable. A whole different set of instructions came from a very determined, calming, and clear voice of the guide.
My third metaphor, when God is in charge all issues of life can be negotiated but we should never assume how He worked in the last situation is how He will work in the next. In fact, it is for our safety we must leave Him in charge and not assume we know what we are doing! One rapid is not like another. There are too many unseen factors that change the level of danger and require different efforts. The slope of the river at that time, the rocks under the water, and the narrowness of the river make all the difference in the world. If you are in the raft make sure you are totally focused on the Guides instructions. Likewise, don’t assume your journey is ever under your control. Stay focused on the instructions of God. This will keep complacency out of the picture.
The river this particularly year was pretty fast and the variety of rapids was pretty intimidating. There was no way that a novice, or group of novices would be able to get through the Rapids with God without some sort of calamity, even death. A particular set of rapids underlined how important the instructions of the Guide were for our safety.
The guide for our crew, at the very beginning of the journey, gave us instructions on what to do if she was tossed overboard! Most of us (including me) figured she was just trying to scare us so we would pay attention. Little did we know what would happen half way into the Rapids with God.
We had successfully passed through a few different rapids and had been having a great time. We were learning to row in such a way as to complement the strength of each person. We were consistently going in a straight line and hitting the rapids in the angle most beneficial to all of the crew. The scary part of the next scenario was that no one saw it coming, except the guide in the raft. Her experience and knowledge informed her that the scenario about to unfold was quite possible.
As we hit the last couple of big plunges (very cool by the way!) we were celebrating coming through them when we realized our guide had been launched from the raft. We were seemingly without a guide and only half way through the journey! All of a sudden we began to hear the guide shouting instructions to us on how to get the raft positioned so she could get back on board. The instructions were simple and EXACTLY like she had taught at the beginning during the serenity of the journey. Before we hit the next big set of rapids she had us perfectly positioned so as to climb back into the raft and be “in our presence” once again.
Here is another metaphor to chew on. Our guide told us (at the beginning of the journey) that despite not being in the raft she would still be able to instruct us. God says the same to us. He will never leave us or forsake us. We might not “sense” His presence but He is there nonetheless. He is still helping us negotiate the unexpected turns of life. No matter what He will be instructing us on how to get through the rapids of life. Despite our consternation our guide was completely calm and in control. Please, I urge you, this is how God operates in our life. NO situation surprises Him. He is prepared to give us instructions. And, in case you have missed the metaphor, He usually requires us to expend effort through acts of obedience to realize the validity of His authority.
It is interesting, but my group of people had the most exciting, talked about journey of everyone who went on this trip. We had experienced a pretty scary situation. We had made it through because we followed our guides calm, yet commanding instructions on how to recuperate. Our journey was more fulfilling because of a significant trial during the journey.
My last metaphor (I promise) follows, it is not that trials should be “desired,” but our fulfillment and joy and experiences are heightened through trials which catch us completely off guard. As we look back and realize that God not only prepared us for the possible scenario, we also realize He was faithful in carrying us through the ordeal. This causes us to develop a deeper awareness of God and our faith grows in preparation for the next set of Rapids with God!
Friends, get in the raft and go with God. If you don’t know Him it is time to say, “You are God, and Jesus is supposed to be guiding my life. Please come and take over and I commit to you in being the guide to the rest of my “rafting trip.” Email me at jeffreycriag.harrington@gmail.com if you would like to discuss your next rafting trip with God. God bless you.

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