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Riding the River

I went white water rafting. Actually, for a while, I was white water bobbing, not rafting.

It wasn’t supposed to happen, my taking an unplanned swim. I am an experienced rafter. In fact, having been down this particular river numerous times, I was the most experienced paddler among our group of 28. Plus, we weren’t in the really fast water yet, just entering a relatively mild section of rapids.

The problem was, and it’s a common fault among us all, that I got careless. Not sensing any real danger, I wasn’t paying much attention. Didn’t even have my feet tucked under thwarts to hold me in place. So, when our raft hit a little bump, I was bounced into the air and, when I came down, the raft had moved on down the river without me.

That can happen to us spiritually, too. Most people aren’t swept away so much by huge catastrophes as they are by the smaller bumps that often catch us unprepared and toss us overboard. That’s why Jesus warned his followers three times in one conversation to “be on your guard” (Mark 13:9, 23, 33) and three times to “watch!” (13:5, 35, 37). That’s why Paul cautioned Christians that “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12). It’s why he told those who try to rescue someone else to “watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Life can be dangerous!

Most of us, I think, feel fairly safe and secure most of the time. The kind of folks who read religion columns don’t fret much about getting caught by some overwhelming temptation. We may not worry about losing our faith or dedication. It’s easy to assume that we’ve got everything under control.

Don’t! Remember my raft. When we think there is no danger, we put ourselves in danger. This life’s river has many unseen bumps and currents, plus there really is one who longs to push you overboard.

Falling in the river makes for a funny story, but bouncing out of God’s boat is no laughing matter. Enjoy the ride, but be careful out there.


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