Let me tell you a little story... in the summer of 1979 I was working as the associate minister (youth minister/song leader) for a TN church. All the youth kids wanted to go canoe the White River in Arkansas. It was my first youth group in Somerville, TN. Libbie & I were newlyweds. I was too young to perceive the cliff approaching! I had organized zero canoe trips before. And after we made that trip, I immediately made plans for the next one - never, ever, ever!
Actually, we did have a lot of fun... but it was a BIG job, with a new, unknown youth group, and very short on sponsors. I learned fast! We all climbed out of our canoes at the end of the day -- wet, blue with cold and hungry. First order of business... a hot shower! But this was a public canoe park and we were staying in tents and the showers cost money. It took $.50 to get 3 minutes of hot water. And then the water turned OFF with absolutely NO warning! No mater how much soap you had on your head, on your hands or in your eyes! It was actually loads of fun just standing outside the showers listening to friends suddenly start shrieking and then grabbing for more quarters, and dropping them and scrambling for them, all with soapy everything and colorful language.
Once home again, and standing in a seemingly endless stream of hot water, I got to thinking that in many ways life is like riding down that river in a canoe. There are places, especially when we’re young, that the pace of the river is j-u-s-t t-o-o s-l-o-w. You have to paddle hard to feel like you’re going anywhere. Sometimes we’re with friends and that can really make it fun to be joking around. Then there we are in the rapids and the pace is so quick and so rough that all you can do is hang on for dear life and hope for it to be over without dumping you in the river! No one can help you at those times and you surely can’t help anybody else. You just have to ride through and hope for a calm spot to recover.
Like the river, sometimes it doesn’t seem like you have any control over life at all. You can’t make the river go slower or faster. You can’t go back to help anybody that got dumped along the way. You also can’t see what’s coming around the next bend. At any time, a sudden rock or rapids can dump you quickly from your comfort zone into cold, deep and lonely waters. But just perhaps a friend will be there to help pull you back into the boat. And maybe there will be a nice hot shower after a while to bring a little comfort. And life goes on.
2 Cor. 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Tim Orbison