While on vacation in Colorado, we rafted down the Colorado River with another family from Illinois. Scott, a guide that sounded like “Mater” from the Disney movie Cars, prepared us for the trip. We practiced how to rescue someone from the water. If anyone went overboard, we were to grab him by the top of the life jacket and pull him back into the raft. If we could not lift our stranded swimmer, we could use his weight to save him. We could push him down, let him bob like a cork, and pull him back into the boat. Fortunately, no one left the raft unless they meant to. But we had a lot of fun learning about how to float and row together.
Our trip down the river was a bit of a parable of life. Our guide knew where we were going, but we had to follow instructions, row, and assist each other. All the while, we had a lot of fun playing, swimming, and learning about the natural beauty of God’s creation. We learned about places where folks had drowned who hadn’t followed instructions and weren’t wearing their life jackets. We saw rocks that had been submerged in rushing water just weeks ago. We learned that even when the destination was certain, we still had to pay attention to what was ahead, below, and around us.
Our journey together as a church is similar. God’s will is the river that carries us along, and our church is the boat. We are assured of our destination, and we trust that he will guide us. We can’t merely float by, rely on others to do the work, or do what we’ve always done before. Instead, we follow instructions, paddle, work together, and enjoy the experience. Life changes, and so must we as we journey along. When people go overboard or we encounter folks who are stranded in sin, we rescue them for the journey of life ahead (not from it). We even practice while we journey together and welcome more passengers who want to follow Jesus.
When the disciples were in a storm in Matthew 14, Jesus walked on the water to rescue them from their fears. When Peter tried to leave the boat, he became afraid when he saw the wind and storms around him. Jesus “reached out his hand and caught him”, brought him back to the boat, and the winds died down. Our Guide was back in the boat with his disciples.
On our journey together, trust the Lord to reach out to grab you in the storms of life. Follow his instructions, and participate in God’s will. The river is always cutting new paths and new destinations for us to explore and enjoy. Take courage; Jesus is reaching out to you.