Have you ever been down a raging river as part of a white water rafting experience? I had the fortune of being able to do this once in my early twenties. While I don’t know that my know weakened back could handle it again, there are some lessons I learned from this endeavor that I have recently applied to life in general. May I share those with you?

Before You Head Down The River

Before you are allowed to get into the boat and start heading down the river, the river guide gives you some version of the following instructions:

Rafting is an incredibly fun activity, and very demanding. It can also be very dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. If you want to not only enjoy today but live through it, you need to adhere to the following rules:

When I say paddle, you paddle! If I Call on one side, only that side paddles. We all paddle together to give the most power to our effort.

When I say hold on, you stop paddling, and you hold on. If you do not, you will likely be bounced out of the raft.

If you do happen to leave the raft, do not try to swim in the fast moving water. Rather, roll onto your back, point your feet downstream, and hang on for the ride. When you get to an area where the water is calmer or slower, try to swim to the edge or grab onto a rock.

What Does This Have to Do With Life?

Life can be very uncertain, much like a raging white water trip. With some experience, you begin to recognize the hazards coming and how to deal with them, just like an experienced guide.

However, life will throw obstacles and bumps in your way, sometimes major and sometimes minor. I do not believe these are things to “test” us or keep us from achieving our goals. However, these obstacles will can certainly do that as well.

Rather, these obstacles or bumps are just part of life. Why? Because everyone one of us gets a choice, and someone else’s choices do affect us. There are also things that are not a matter of choice, but just are.

These are like the rapids. Some are small and are over rather quickly. You look back at these and think, “huh, that wasn’t so bad.” You even begin to think you’ve mastered this whole journey and you are invincible.

Then the major rapids come up. You look in fear as you realize you do not think you are prepared to deal with this. You hope the people you’ve gotten into a boat with are maybe a little more experienced than you are, and that somehow luck might get you through. You also look to your guide, who has a cheezy smile on his face as he sees the fear on yours. He’s been down this river before, but even his survival depends on everyone working together.

Then You Get Knocked Overboard

Sometimes things in life actually knock you out of the boat. You start flailing around, struggling to swim against rapid rush of water, and you get turned around, pushed under, pop up, and go hurtling down the river.

It’s in these times we have to remember the great wisdom of the crazy guide. Roll onto your back, point your feet downstream, and just go with the flow.

I currently find myself in the midst of one of these times as I write this. My family is in the middle of a crisis where my sister is very likely not going to survive. As I drove my mother 10 hours to be with my sister a week ago, this correlation dawned on me.

At this point, there is nothing we can do, and little the doctors can do. For us, the only thing we can do is let go, stop struggling to control the situation, and just go with the flow.

I don’t know what the situation is that you are in, but I am guessing many who read this, either now or in the future, are either in a situation that feels like they are drowning, or will be in the future.

Take the advice from this guide and relax, remember to breathe...DEEPLY...and just allow yourself to go with the flow. This time will not last forever. You will reach a calmer area where you will need to swim again. This is where you take control once more. Wait for that area, conserve your strength, that way when you get there you will be ready and make it through.

I pray that whatever situation you find yourself in will resolve quickly, and those in the boat with you will pull you back in.


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