The River of Life
Recently, my big brother, Shawn, flew in from Seattle to visit me in Georgia. Since it was summer time, it was necessary to entertain him with the cooling component of fresh, cold water. We drove to Helen, Georgia to float down the river in inner tubes. One step into the crisp cold water felt as refreshing to my feet as a quenching sip of ice tea feels to one’s throat. I wondered if the water was too cold, but I ventured in, jumping onto my tube to catch the current. One by one, my husband, my brother, my son, and my daughter did the same.
As we floated, I noticed some comparisons between the journey on the river and of life.
At first, we were all rested, full of energy, and excited about the possibilities of our adventure. At first, there was plenty of space, the depth was just right, the water current perfect enough to pull us along, and the rocks were too small to hinder us. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it felt amazing to lean backward, hands resting behind our head, elbows out, feet floating and bobbing up and down as we pleased. The sun shone down, and danced among the leaves of the trees, reflecting on our faces. Our eyes bright, our spirits soared as a flock of geese took off from a nearby bank. We heard the rushing sound of the wind in their wings as they gained momentum, squawking to us about their self-proclaimed power. I think they were telling us it was their river first.
As we continued down the river, the current became slightly stronger, the rocks became bigger and clumped together in the most difficult places. Just when we thought we were clear of obstructions, the water became too shallow to float forcing us to get up and walk for a distance as our feet slipped on slime, or stepped on sharp rocks, which wasn’t a big deal unless your flip flop was jerked off of your foot, attempting to escape within the current. Grabbing, and splashing, I would reach out and reclaim my flip-flop, or I would ask someone further up the river to intervene for me. I needed better shoes. My son saw “a creature” on a rock as he tried to grab onto it for refuge. Letting go, he shouted, “Ugh, there are creatures out here!”
Fortunately, the rough patches in the river always lead to a peace floating plateau, and we were able to rest and recover from the challenging sections of the river. Each difficult part of the river, made us appreciate the next patch of peace that much more. Regardless, we still smiled brightly from the exhilaration of the adventure. We were just happy to be together, away from school, work, traffic, and the demands of life. We were free, floating upon the river. At many points the river was divided into two sections. One section was open, with a bubbling current over some stair-stepped rocks, causing a mini-water fall, which provided an amazing inner tubing water slide. The lucky ones, who happened upon that side of the divide, smiled and shouted as they rode upon the water with joyous sounds of happiness.
Some people were not as fortunate. The current forced them to the difficult side of the river, absent of the gleeful, smooth slide. Instead, they were stuck with rocks, sticks, a muddy bank, and anything else that nature presented as an obstacle.
I found it ironic that the river just forced us to different sections by no choice of our own. Sometimes, we were fortunate. Sometimes we were not. My brother helped stranded people that he did not know, lifting them off of the rocks they were wedged upon, and giving them a helpful push back into the current. Many times, he sacrificed his own comfort, sliding into the ice cold water to help someone less fortunate than himself.
As I experienced and witnessed the many circumstances, I thought, “This is just like the journey of life!” We start out rested and full of energy, ready for whatever exciting opportunity life brings. As we grow and experience things, sometimes circumstances beyond our control force us into rough times, and we struggle. At times, we have to walk on sharp rocks, slip on slime, and we wrestle to survive. Other times, we sacrifice our own comfort to help someone else. And yes, if we refuse to stay in the mud, we find ourselves in the current of free flowing grace again.
Life is an exhilarating journey of ups and downs. The important thing to remember, however, is that God floats within the river, He simultaneously waits on the banks, and He is always there to help us when we get stuck. He knows about sacrificing His own comfort for the sake of our safety. After all, He was on the river first because He has gone before us. I am just thankful that He continually calls to us, like a rushing wind, reminding us of His powerful presence.
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her website, https://kristinaseymour.com/. God loves to share His story of love and grace through us all, and Kristina believes that everyone has a story to tell.