Our family went on our yearly annual run down the river a few weeks ago. We have rafted down the Green River off of the Flaming Gorge Dam for the past four years. It is a six mile raft ride and it is pretty mild. But I have this one little fault....okay I have more than one.....I do not like water. I am not a great swimmer and I don't have confidence in myself when I am doing any water sport.
So why would we have a family tradition to go down the river every year? Well, my husband LOVES water. He is one of those people who should have been a fish. He would swim every day if we had a pool. It doesn't matter if it is skiing or swimming, or rafting, or canoeing, or jet ski's, anything in the water and he loves it. So I do what any good wife does. I say yes when he wants to go and do those scary water things.
But I've learned something. Doing hard things gets easier over time. I know, you all know this...DUH! But the first time we ever went down the river I was terrified. We had a 7 yo a 6 yo and two 3 yo's. Everyone else at the river thought we were crazy too to bring so many little kids down the river. We asked one of the young men who was just home from a mission to come with us so he could help us paddle and rescue ME if needed. As we headed off down the river we were the last ones in because they didn't have enough life jackets for all our kids...really no one else had little kids. We hurried past all the other people so we wouldn't be in the water fights....that would probably cause our boat to sink! And we avoided as many rapids as possible at my request. It was so bad that our young man asked if he could get out and sneak in another boat...I'm sure we were taking all of the fun away from him. I could not wait for it to be over!
This last time we waited for the whole group to be in the water with us....we never do that, but we were confident that if we didn't want to get wet that we could get away pretty quickly...you see we've all learned how to row together now. We also bring our own life jackets...it's much easier than hopeing your kids jacket will fit. But this year we had many, many kids...even little kids. I was watching and looking at all the families that were there instead of just couples and older teens and I thought...hmmmm mabey we helped with this. Perhaps we helped others to feel like they could do it too. I'm glad about that. I'm glad that others now come as families. We also now take our time. We look for animals, we look at the scenery, we enjoy the rapids and peals of laughter come from the children, we race, we watch the other rafters and the fishermen, we are relaxed. This year at the end I wanted to do it again...lets just haul the boat back up to the dock and go down again.
Things that at one point are hard for us can become easy. We have faith, we trust the process, we know the pitfalls, we avoid the dangers, we come prepared, we enjoy the ride. I am trying to teach myself to feel this way at the point when things are hard for me. To let the stress and the worry and the concern go and just have faith, be patient, go slow, look for the good things around me. For me, this is part of what the Lord wants me to learn...secure not stressed. Things in life are always hard, or troubling, or scary. But that doesn't mean that I have to be ruled by those emotions. I can be calm and peaceful and give love to others even in the midst of the turbulent rapids. Some of this comes from being prepared, most comes from trusting in the Lord, some comes from having hope that all things work together for good in the end, some comes from knowing that I can learn and become more from any adventure we get swept away in.
One of the boats following us this year was a family of 3. A Dad and his two grown daughters. They each had these neat water guns and they had one target...US. About half way down the river we noticed them. We noticed they were sneaking up on us, we noticed that they would laugh occasionaly, we noticed that gleam in their eye. So we named them Sin....not in a mean way, but we talked about how sin is always following us. It is always right behind us. And even when you think you've paddled so far ahead that it could never catch up to you, there it is again. We would row and row and row and they always seemed to be just out of range. A few times I thought they were really going to get us. At one point after paddling so hard and turning around to find them not so far away I thought that I couldn't give much more. Don't we all feel this way in life. Sometimes I feel like I am living in a way that sin can't touch me...but it can. Sometimes I feel like I am fighting and fighting and not getting ahead. Sometimes I feel like I just want to give up and give in and be like everyone else, it would be so much easier just to get wet.
But, we didn't. We prevailed. We gave it our all and paddled hard for 20 strokes. We were near the end anyway...which doesn't feel like the time to paddle hard, but sometimes that is the most important stretch. The part when your tired, when it's been a long haul, when you think...what if we just don't make it. And then you give one more try, you put your heart back into it, you have faith, you turn to the Lord. He picks up the oar and finishes.
I was thinking about why....why do we not want to get wet so badly....well, most of us anyway. My brother has these funny sayings and one of them is, "once your wet, you stay wet." Maybe that is why. Maybe we are afraid of getting wet and staying wet. I know for me this year I was already pretty wet. I had the front of the boat this year and my loving husband in the back decided that he should steer the boat to get as many rapids head on as he could so I could get as wet as possible. A little way down I figured out his evil plan and started counteracting him, but I was still quite wet. It also rained this year. Not much you can do about hiding or paddling away from that. So why not just let Sin soak us? Why not for once in four years be a "wet" boat. Some of it is the thrill that we can outrun someone with all our little kids. Some of it is the fact that my kids tend to cry when someone drenches them...okay, just the one that is like me :). Some of it is that when we are wet many of us don't have enough body fat to produce enough heat and we get cold. But I really feel like it is a choice. We have chosen not to want to get wet (sorry dear). We like to be in control over our boat, over our "wet-ness". We want to choose. Now someday we (I) may give in and decide we want to get wet, but until we make that decision we want to try as hard as we can to stay out of situations where we know we would get wet.
This is kind of like life as well. Sometimes when we get wet it is easier just to go for it and get really wet. Sometimes when we sin it seems easier just to go on sinning. But it can get pretty cold out there in a canyon when the sun goes behind a cloud and your drenched. Sometimes we didn't know the evil plan that was being plotted in the back of the boat, and we got wet without realizing our errors. Some people even just made the choice...lets be a wet boat, and sin is just something they have chosen to be okay with. But there are always consequences. Sometimes we sink our boat. Sometimes we get hurt due to our fun. Sometimes we get lost and disoriented. Sometimes we feel like we can't keep going to the end. Sometimes we forget that there is a way to get dry again....The Son. (sun)
What a blessing it is to have the sun. When it comes out from beind the canyon wall, when you see it's beauty reflecting off the surface of the green, green water. When it's warmth touches you all the way to your bones. When you dry off and feel good and warm again. I love the sun. I also love The Son. He is all things good. He is safety and warmth to me. He is the way I can overcome when I just didn't make it. What a tremendous blessing is the Son of God.
Ah, the lesson you learn from the Green River.