I read something a few days ago that talked about the writer’s experience doing white-water rafting for the first time, and it reminded me of the time Dan and I also went on this exhilarating experience. It was a LONG time ago. If I remember well, it was during our first year of marriage. We went to Costa Rica and booked the tour…and boy, was it an experience!
We had never done anything like this before. We were in a group of…8 people? I think. They gave us a little training before we hit the water in which we learned where we were going to seat, 4 on each side, with the leader on the center back, at the “driver seat”. I remember thinking I better pay attention ‘cause my life might depend on it, so I focused y on the leader’s instructions as best as I could. The kid, I mean, I guess I was a kid back then too, was Australian… and one thing he said in his cool, down-under accent, which made everyone chuckle, was “OK, mates, remember your left from your right…don’t forget which side is right and which side is left…don’t laugh…because there’ll be a time when you might not remember…” Then he said: “always, listen to me and do what I say!”
We carried our raft to the river and on we went… or is it “in”?… The river is called, “Río Reventazón” which means something like “Big Burst...” or something like that…yikes… And burst it does. Those rapids came in quickly, my friend. Before I could ponder whose great idea that was, we were immersed in a whirlpool of roaring waters, and I saw nothing but white all around. I soon realized I had no clue what to do! Then, I remember what the guide said: “always listen to me and do what I say!”
“Left ahead, right back!!!” “Right ahead! Right ahead! Left back” “Left ahead! Left ahead! Right back!!!” Gosh… am I right or left? What’s ahead?
There was no doubt, I had forgotten my left from my right…
Someone fell off the raft. “Grab him by the lifejacket!!!” the guide yelled. “All ahead! All ahead!” “Left back! Right ahead!” We were trying to pull the raft mate out of the water and into the raft, while still paddling in frantic confusion. Soon we realized we needed to ACTUALLY pay attention and listen to the guide or else we would never get out of the river alive! Eventually, our raft began to move forward more cohesively as the inexperienced rafters became more comfortable following the barking orders coming from the leader... and remembering our left and right.
Once we understood the significance of truly tuning into the guide’s voice and doing what he commanded, the fun started and we were able to enjoy the ride. I mean, it was still hard, and exhausting (I have never felt more physically drained in my life!) but it made sense and we were able to have a meaningful experience.
Thinking back today I see how during the moments of relative calm, we navigated more on cruise control, without much instruction…but as soon as we hit the white waters, keen awareness of the leaders’ voice and acute obedience to his commands became a most.
Sounds familiar? Well…of course. As Christians, we have a Leader who is giving us guidance and precise instructions every step of the way…but often, in the midst of the struggle, when we are deep into the rapids, panic sets in and confusion wins the hour. We get so caught up with the circumstances at hand, and are so blinded by the bursting waters that we forget what’s left or what’s right! It is not until we intentionally tune into our Guide’s voice that we will listen to His instructions and be able to follow them. It will not necessarily make the waters be still, but it will make us know what to do to get us out of the whirlpool.
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"