Friday, July 27, 2012

Lessons Learned in a Bright Blue Raft

Not us, but others in the bright blue raft

David had already disappeared over the edge.  Stepping off with confidence and excitement, he sailed to the ground effortlessly.  I edged my way to the side of the platform, gazing down at the ground 40 feet below.  The guide fastened and double checked my harness before telling me to go ahead and jump.  I looked over the edge and said, “Nope.  I don’t think I can do this.”  Never being one who is all that adventurous or all that fond of heights, this was a little too much to ask my brain to force my body to do.

Steps into the unknown, that is steps of faith, are not a natural part of my being.  

My natural inclination is to stay in one spot, especially if it is perceived as the safe spot.  I did not want to step off the safety of the platform.  It took some encouragement (like the guide saying, “The little kid just did it.”  True, but whoever said five year olds make the wisest choices?), but in the end it took my willingness to just do it.  

Steps of faith are an act of will that must be intentionally taken.

This is just one of the life lessons I was able to enjoy learning earlier this week as David and I spent the day at the US National Whitewater Center just outside of Charlotte, NC.  Dear friends had received free passes and given them to us along with taking care of the boys for the day.  We had a blast together whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, ziplining and just spending time together.  I couldn’t help but look back over the day and see some life lessons on display in all the fun.
I was very excited about whitewater rafting, but did not especially like the idea of being thrown from the boat.  Something about trying to escape from the churning rapids did not excite me, more than that- it scared me a little.  As I told one of our guides, “I want to have as much adventure as possible, as long as I stay in the boat.”  Famous last words.  

Just as we were going over the last big rapid (backwards), one of the guys got thrown from the boat.  We tried to get him back in, but forgot we needed to paddle, the boat got sucked back into the rapids and before you can say all wet, we were all wet.  As I got pulled under the water, the morning’s training ran through my head, “Feet up, face down river, feet up, face down river.”  

During moments of fear or crisis, whatever we have used to train ourselves will take over.

This is just one more reason for us to train ourselves in the word of God.  During a time of crisis is too late.  To be prepared to handle all that life has to throw at us, we must be solid in our faith and understanding of God when (not if) the crisis takes place.

Following the instructions, I was able to safely make it to the shore where one of the guides used a rope to help me get out.  My feet firmly on the ground, I realized there was nothing to fear.  I had survived and thusly became even more confident in my rafting abilities. 

That which we fear can often turn out to be that which will make us stronger. 

After all the excitement of whitewater rafting, we took a little break to try some leisurely kayaking.  We explored the banks of the Catawba river as the current pulled us slowly downstream.  As we came around a bend, it began to thunder and we decided we needed to turn back.  

But when you allow yourself to drift with the currents, it takes work to get back to where you need to be.  

So we began the long paddle back up river slowly but surely.  Rest assured it takes far more work to go against the current than just to flow along.   The next day, I was feeling muscles from that trip back that I have not felt in a long time!   

We had not asked God for a day off, but man did we need it.  David and I have been going strong for weeks now with little rest or time for just the two of us.  God knew this and knew that weariness was creeping in.  Enter in His lavish grace, some loving friends and a safety harness or two and you get a day of restoration, memories and pure enjoyment.  

Sometimes, God answers prayers that you haven’t even started to pray.

And sometimes, sometimes He gives life lessons in the strangest of places, like in- or out of- a bright blue raft. 

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