What I Did On My Summer Vacation
I don’t know if they still ask students to write essays about their summer vacation, but if I were asked to write one it would definitely be about my summer mission trip. I’m sure this would not surprise anybody, we all know that mission trips can be incredible experiences to write about. Oddly enough though, it would not be about the missions experience itself but about what happened before we got there. On our way to our summer mission project, we went white water rafting. I had never been rafting before, and I’m not gonna lie, I was very nervous about it. As I continue to tell you my story, I want you to keep the following scripture in mind:
“…but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.”
Before you actually get in the rafts they give you instructions on how to wear your safety gear; helmet, life vest and yes even how to use your paddle to not hurt yourself or others. Ok, glad for the gear but now a little more nervous as they explained that you could be cut up by rocks, or knocked unconscious by a flailing paddle, great! I listened intently, wanting to have as much information as possible to avoid the dangers that lie ahead.
After the “training,” they then load you up on an ancient school bus and drive you up river. As we drove past the river, I saw the rapids and thought WOW this will be fun and yes still kinda scary! We were then divided into groups and assigned our boats and guides. Our guide was the safety boat so he quickly reviewed the instructions and told us we had to help rescue others if they got into serious trouble. Ok no pressure, and wait -- there could be serious trouble?! He reinforced that we all had to trust him and most importantly listen to his instructions and obey without question immediately.
Before we went through a rapid he would explain what was going to happen, what we needed to do to get through it, and what to do if we fell out – WHAT fall out!!
But no time to worry about it –
Here we go –
He would yell, “Two strokes forward…left two strokes…all forward hard, hard, hard!!!” We would paddle in unison as he had instructed us – I listened intently to his voice only, looking at the water I was paddling. Then, in what seemed like a matter of seconds, we would be through the rapid! He positioned us to watch the other rafts and I would see where we had just been – WOW, No Way! I had been so busy following his instructions I didn’t even notice how truly perilous the water we were going through was. And to my great surprise, I wasn’t scared at all, it was actually fun!
This experience reminded me of the Jeremiah text – if we obey and do our part, God will do God’s part. God will be our God and we will be his people. We had to trust our guide that he would take care of us and that he knew what he was talking about. Our guide knew the river – we didn’t, just as the Creator of the universe knows how it really works – we don’t!
To obey God is to say, “Hey, I trust that you know better than I do how this crazy life works!” If we look to God, listen to his voice and focus on him, the rough times don’t seem so rough and before we know it were through it. Our guide never promised we would NOT fall out, in fact he always reminded us of the possibility. God never promises us that just because we are his people we won’t have trouble, life with God does not mean life without struggle. God is with us, guiding us even when we do “fall out”.
I also thought about the fact that I was not in the raft alone. We all worked together, paddled together as we faced our challenge and celebrated together when we made it through. We are not meant to go through this life alone. We are to be God’s “people” not God’s “person”.
There were a few times on our trip that we had to rescue others, reaching them with our paddles to bring them into our raft out of the raging river. Again, with our guide giving us instructions, working together, we were able to help them. God cares about ALL humanity and teaches us to care about others. We are to listen not only to God to guide our lives, but listen to God to help us help each other so that it “may go well” with all of us.
What a rush, what a trip! This was certainly a summer I will not forget and the lessons I learned on the river are with me to stay. I know there will always be “rapids” in my life, and I know there is always the possibility that I could “fall out” of the raft.
And, I will listen for the voice of my God (my guide), follow his instructions, work in unity with others in my raft, reach out to those in the water, and enjoy the ride!