Last week my wife and I went white-water rafting with another couple, each couple in their own watercraft. This was not our first-time rafting, but it had been a while. The river was wilder and faster than expected and the equipment new to us.
As it happened, the point where we put into the river was directly above some of the most difficult water to navigate on our three-day, 46-mile trip. Due to my unfamiliarity with the raft and its quirks, that first half-day was extremely frustrating.
I was trying to learn how to control the raft in the roughest conditions we encountered. I didn’t realize it at the time, but on the second day of the trip when I began to get a feel for the raft, I discovered that I had been fighting the raft and the river instead of using them. The result had been frustration, sore muscles from wrestling with the oars, and some harrowing experiences on the river.
Later I thought about that and its implications on our lives spiritually. Sometimes we are trying so hard to stop sinning or break a habit that we seem to be fighting against the current of God’s Spirit and what He wants to do in our lives. We can’t fight the flesh in the power of the flesh.
In other words, we desperately need God’s provision in this regard. Romans 8:1-4 explains:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Well, by the third day, I was feeling a lot more at ease and confident on the river—that is until we got hung up on a hidden boulder! I learned that white-water rafting is not a lazy, relaxing float down a river without a care in the world. No, you have to be alert and constantly on the lookout for large rocks, some of which are barely submerged and can hang up your raft and potentially flip it.
There are other dangers to watch for as well like narrow, sharp curves in the river that want to drive you into a rock wall. There are also sweepers near the banks the current wants to suck you into. Then, there are the islands and sometimes making the blind decision which side of the island to take. Sometimes you choose well, other times not.
Life too is full of dangers, many of them unseen until you find yourself caught on one. But like the river, life flows on. You can’t live well if you’re full of worry about what might be around the next curve, you just have to keep on floating, stay alert, and trust the Lord to carry you through.
Sometimes we try to orchestrate our lives such that we think we’ve removed all possible calamities from it. So, we take life at our ease and float on without any thought for hidden dangers. Then, when our life gets hung up on one of those hidden hazards, we panic and wonder what happened.
But without the adventure, there’s also little enjoyment. Each day, we had to endure the hazards in order to enjoy an evening with friends at beautiful riverside campsite. Our last night out we enjoyed watching half-a-dozen rocky mountain sheep frolic on the bluff across the river. As far as we know, we four were the only ones to witness this beautiful sight.
Life would be pretty bland and boring without some adventure.
Let me encourage you to read Psalm 104 sometime soon. Here’s just a taste: “How many are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)