Sometimes life can become challenging! Sometimes things just come up without little or no notice at all. Sometimes life can be like a White Water Rafting Trip!
Many years ago I joined several other men on a trip to attend a Promise Keepers event in Indianapolis Indiana. On the way, we stopped in Tennessee to go White Water Rafting on the Ocoee River. I had never been before and like everyone else I was excited about doing something adventurous with some of my best friends.
The River Guide told us everything we needed to know before we entered the water. He explained how we would sit on the raft and he even gave us a detail of each section or the river and more importantly the rapids we would face together.
The map showed all the rapids in succession, with the worst rapid at the very end. That rapid was called “Hell’s Hole”. Our guide made that one seem like some people didn’t make it out on his last trip down. Believe me he had our attention as he trained and entertained us.
The one thing I really remember that he kept saying again and again was “Whatever you do, Keep Paddling!” “When the water gets rough, don’t stop paddling or we will get sucked into the rapid and we could get turned over.”
I can still hear him saying those words even now.
If life can be like a river, where calm water can quickly become a rough series of rapids, then maybe we need to navigate life like we would navigate a challenging river? Just like that journey on the Ocoee River, when things start to get rough, that’s probably the time to paddle harder and it’s definitely the time to Keep Paddling Through. Sadly we have all seen someone who quit paddling along the way of life. The succession of rapids eventually caused them to quit and just accept was happening to them. Their stories can range from a failed marriage, a failed business to a dream career path that was eventually given up on.
I have heard it said that “Life can happen to us or we can happen to life, That you can ride the waves or the waves can ride you.”
At the Ocoee River they name their rapids with names that describe the experience of going through them. What are the rapids we encounter on the river of life and how can do more than survive them, how can we paddle through them and master them?
- Rapids of Delay. This set of rapids just tries to make you think it is never ever going to happen. You were hoping that the house would sell in 90 days, but now it has been two years. Will you give up on selling your current home and building that dream home one day, or will you keep the dream alive? It could be that you are dreaming of having a child one day and it’s now been 10 years with no signs of hope. Will you keep the dream alive despite the delay? Ask yourself if it’s worth it, if it’s worth the delay and if it is worth it then you must Keep Paddling despite the delay.
- Rapids of Detour. This set of rapids takes you in a direction that you did not want to go. You were set on a career in sports but an injury ended that path and started a brand new one. You had a desire for something in life, but you were moved in another direction that seems to be taking you away from your dream, not towards it! Detours happen and they ultimately are either God’s hand directing us to a new dream that were not aware of yet, or they are a test on the way to the original dream. Either way, the best way to move forward and away from the point of the detour is to Keep Paddling. Who knows, your detour today may be saving you from a really bad decision but at the same time it actually delivers you to the dream you originally had in the first place. Just because you don’t get the dream today, doesn’t mean that you will not get it tomorrow.
- Rapids of Discouragement. These rapids just try to wear you down over time. To get through these rapids we need to remind ourselves that they will not last forever. If we Keep Paddling, they will eventually end and the water will become like glass once again. We also need others to help us fight through and master these rapids. Like my trip on the Ocoee River, you can not go down the river alone. Like that trip, there are times that you can’t paddle and you will need someone to paddle for you. Likewise, you will need to paddle when someone else just can’t. The way we get through the Rapids of Discouragement, is to Keep Paddling and Keep Paddling With Others!