Back when I was a teenager, I had a few opportunities to do some whitewater rafting. I did not do it for fun. I’ve actually had such an intense fear of water that it was anything but. I did it to face my fears. I can’t tell you that it worked, but it did provide me some awesome memories and experiences that I still carry with me.
One of my last experiences happened when I was about 17 and God still uses it as a reminder to this day. I was (well, still am) a stubborn, resolute, young woman and the last thing I wanted was to fall into a rapid with tons of rushing water pushing me around. So, each and every time I got in the raft, my mind was was made that under no absolute circumstances was I coming out of that boat.
It was through one big rapid where quite a few other fellow boaters with me had either bounced or washed out. The raft got stuck into one particular hydraulic that wouldn’t release the boat. We were tossed and turned by the turbulent waves and even though we paddled our hardest, the boat could not get out. Over time, everyone but the guide and myself had washed out. I paddled as he tried to maneuver the boat so the rapid would spit the raft out. Nothing was working. I remember the raft going up and down, side to side, as we worked to get out.
As resolute as I was to not have to get into the water, I was getting so tired that even getting washed out started to become appealing to me. We were exhausted and it did not seem that in anyway that raft was going to be released. However, we kept paddling and taking breaks in between. While one of us was paddling, the other would rest. After what felt like forever, the hydraulic finally set us, raft and all, free. We were able to get the raft to the bank and pick up the others who had washed out and continue with our trip down the river gorge. All of us thankful that we didn’t lose a boat and have a long strenuous hike out.
We all experience difficult times in our lives. Maybe some by our own doing, but also some that are out of our control. I’ve had much of both in my life. Whether it be mistakes I had to walk through the consequences of, deliverance of hard times, things I longed for yet not received, all were things to endure. To hope for. To pray for. To wait for. All were things that seemed so out of my control. All were things that I’ve grown weary and wanted to give up on. It is in those times where God gives me that visual of the raft. When I think about how tired I am, I immediately think about that raft as it tossed about and how tired my arms got. I instantly remember how much I wanted and felt like giving up and how hopeless the situation seemed. I think about how my resolution helped me keep paddling. I think about how paddling kept me steady instead of being tossed around by the waves. I think about how I wasn’t alone and when I was in need of rest, there was somebody with me to paddle. I remember how ultimately we got to the other side. I also am reminded that if I had of given up, we would have had a much worse situation. God doesn’t grow weary. He doesn’t give up on us and in turn we learn to not give up on Him.
Even in the most hopeless circumstances, He does bring us out. He does take us to the other side. Maybe He doesn’t when we are ready to or when we think it should happen, but He does. These times strengthen us. It brings to mind the psalm where it says he makes our arms ready for battle. These hard times not only strengthen us for future battles of our own, but also makes us ready to battle for others. Remember, I was not in the raft alone. There are times where we are tired and we do need rest, and what a blessing it is to have someone ready to fight for you when you’re too tired to do so yourself.
Be resolute that you can stay the course that God has called you to. In doing so, even temptations have less sway. Keep paddling not in wearing yourself out, but by staying in the Word, know what it says, and remain in constant prayer. Not only does this nourish your hope, keeping you steady but it also keeps your mind from present situations. Do not forget that you’re not alone. That is why we are called together to make one body in Christ. Just as our own body parts cannot function independently of one another, neither can we. We need each other to pray for each other, keep the faith when another is weary, and to support each other. We experience Christ’s power when we are praying, worshipping, and serving together within His body. And most importantly, remember God is ultimately the victor. Even when things seem most dire, He’s still has the final say so in the outcome. There is another side to this and He does bring us through to the other side.
He continues to do so in the big and small things. I choose to dwell on those things in gratitude which keeps me hanging on to Him in hope. Hope that the best is yet to come. Don’t give up.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. ~Psalm 18:33-35
While this blog applies to all of us, I’d like to take a moment to encourage our Canvas ladies to attend this upcoming prayer and worship night or even if you don’t attend Canvas, but could use prayer, rejuvenation, and fellowship, we would love for you to join us. See link below for details.