River Rafting with Jesus

Several years ago, my wife, Ali, and I were on a Pastor’s retreat to Lost Pines Resort in Cedar Creek, Texas. The retreat planners planned time for the couples to spend together relaxing and investing in each other. One of the amenities we took advantage of was the lazy river. The first time I was on a lazy river was probably at Schlitterbahn when my kids were really little. It’s a very different experience when your kids are little and you’re on the lazy river than when you experience the lazy river without your kids. It was not until the latter experience that I understood the term “lazy.”

I was thinking about the descriptive terminology of the river. It is precisely what it says, it’s moving very slowly throughout the property, and you get in a tube and just float lazily along in the river. I was thinking about that experience compared to canoeing or white-water rafting, where it’s not exactly called a lazy river.

0ne of my friends was a white-water rafting guide. There was a trip when he was thrown out of his raft; the current took him under it and pinned him against a large boulder. He grasped for a way to pull himself out. He tried to swim to no avail. He wasn’t sure he was going to make it out alive. He never felt so helpless as he tried to move, but the force of the water kept him pinned. He became disoriented and unsure which direction was up toward the surface.

Eventually, the water spits him out, and he surfaced. He lived just to go back, jump in another raft, and do it all over again. I was like, “Dude; you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, are you? I mean, you should have learned a lesson at some point.” But we were young. The exhilaration was foremost for us.

I considered that as an analogy as I was thinking about Jesus’ call to his disciples. I wonder what your perspective of the Christian life is. You may be somebody that sits on the shore and watches the river. You’ve got your drink and your bag of popcorn or whatever you choose to eat. You’ve got a lawn chair and watching others live the Christian life. Is it worth jumping in? Or is it easier to laugh and critique as you watch others? You’re watching; you’re an observer.

There’s another group of people reading this. You’re in the Christian life, you’re there, but your picture of the Christian life is the lazy river. “Lord, don’t make this thing go too fast. Make it comfortable. I want to get some sun, just chill. I want the refreshment of the water.” Your idea of Christianity is a journey of comfort and convenience.

Some of you have bought into what Jesus told his early disciples. It is a very different trip on another river. He says, “I’m going to take you on a white-water rafting trip. I’m going to show you; if you’ll listen to my call and come with me, I’ll take you on a wild ride. I will provide stretches of calm but don’t become complacent we’ll have more adventuresome water to conquer.”

How many of us have that final vision when we think of Christianity? Unfortunately, I don’t believe that is how we discuss following Jesus. But perhaps we should.

2 thoughts on “River Rafting with Jesus

  1. Sometimes, I become complacent of my status as Christian all my life . I just want to be at the side and watch people do their business as Christians. What should I do more when I think I have done everything already?

    1. Sorry for the delayed response, Grace. I don’t know your situation so anything here will be in broad terms. I would suggest one important point – be sure your doing of “everything” is not simply a list we develop ourselves or others impose on us. We are called to follow Jesus and be about his business. Let him define your life. Jesus said he was the source of abundant life. Be sure you stay plugged into him and listening to His Spirit. Then there is incredibel freedom to love others which is our calling.

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