Years ago I went tubing down the river. It was an Indiana river and to this native Montanan, the brownish water was a bit of a challenge. There is just no comparison between water in Indiana and water in Montana. The first time I visited a lake outside of my home state, I asked if people really swim in this stuff.
Anyway, we went tubing. One of our group was deathly afraid of water, but she didn’t allow fear to keep her from participating. I was so proud of her.
The float went wonderfully until we got to the point of disembarkation. It’s a little tricky to get the tube to the shore at just the right spot and then get out without dumping. My friend dumped. Being deathly afraid of water, she flailed and floundered about, sure death was imminent. I rushed to her side and grabbed her arm, realizing as I did so that the water was quite shallow. She just needed to stand up.
Lesson #1 – Just Stand Up
Sunday as we prepared to put our crafts into the water, my brother-in-law reminded us that if we fall out of the kayaks, just stand up. You see, most of the time, you will be just fine. It is the panic of being in the water that causes you to lose perspective and flounder in water that is really not over your head.
Life can be like that too. Situations come along that tip the canoe, and floundering ensues. It might be an unexpected bill, relationship difficulties, problems with children, health issues – anything that hits out of nowhere. For an instant, perspective is gone and it feels like we are drowning. Maybe we should just stand up. We might actually see the water isn’t as deep as we thought and the shore is right there.
Lesson #2 – the calm always comes after the rapids
On our excursioin down the river, we encountered a few sections with small rapids. I found them to be rather fun as we greeted them with squeals of delight. I will hasten to say these were very small. Just large enough to add a little variety to the float. My partner and I did everything we could to hit them safely and straight on, avoiding any obvious large rocks. Only once or twice we turned sideways and were greeted with a bit of spray in the kayak. Otherwise, they were just fun. And it never failed, there was always a calm section of river to greet us on the other side of the rapids.
Rapids are created by obstacles, usually large rocks, close to the water’s surface that create a disturbance in the water. The depth of the water only makes a difference in how large of an obstacle is needed to create the surface disturbance. But when the water changed depth or the rocks under the water were absent, the surface was calm.
Life is full of obstacles. Sometimes large, sometimes small. And the surface of our life can be disturbed. It’s good to remember that there is calm ahead. The obstacles don’t last forever and the water of life ebbs and flows to varying depths. Hang on! There is calm water ahead.
Lesson #3 – the deeper the water, the calmer the ride
At one point in our float, the river went through a small canyon. It was at this point, the water was the deepest. Looking over the edge of the kayak, huge boulders were visible far beneath the surface of the water. Canyon walls rose above the water making it nearly impossible to consider getting off the river. The water was the most beautiful clear, blue green color. It was absolutely breathtaking.
It seems we avoid deep water because we don’t like to be in over our heads. There is something about knowing that I can’t touch bottom that changes how I feel about being in the water. And yet, this part of the river was so appealing. I felt the peace and presence of God like in no other place on the float. The size of the boulders, the depth of the water, the canyon walls all combined in a breathtaking display of the greatness of God.
It is when we are in the deep water that we see the glory of God in profound ways. His presence is the richest, his peace the strongest.
As I floated and meditated on God’s creation, my mind went to Isaiah 43:1-4. Perhaps my life jacket is symbolic of the presence of God in my life. It doesn’t keep me in the boat, but it provides protection if I land in the water. It helps to keep my head up until I can get my feet under me to stand up. It holds me close through the rapids and gives me confidence as I navigate to the next calm stretch. And it gives me the courage to swim in the deep even when I can’t touch.
What is Father saying to you through your interaction with his creation? How does he want to show you his love and care in what is all around you on a regular basis? Listen for his voice. Let him speak his love to you right where you are.