Last week I went and spent a couple of days floating and fishing the Eleven Point River in…well, it isn’t in any towns that I know of. Let’s just call it southern Missouri.
The river is a designated wilderness area which means that anything not wilderness-y isn’t allowed. The campsites were primitive even by primitive standards. The trees were old growth and enormous.
The only signs of humans were the occasional river campsites and the remains of a couple of mills from over a hundred and fifty years ago.
So, I decided to get my fishing buddy and load up kayaks to visit this wonderful land of mystery.
The first few hours were nothing short of a blast, although fishing seemed to fizzle out after the first couple of miles.
There was plenty of other stuff to keep us occupied like rushing water and obstacles of boulders, trees and overhanging branches to challenge us at every turn.
I was carelessly shooting through little rapids and paddling like I knew what I was doing feeling like Lewis or Clark or maybe a much older Huck Finn.
There was no cell signal on the river but I had downloaded navigational maps and my GPS could tell me where we were. In my mind, knowing where you are means something even though if we weren’t where we thought we were and couldn’t get where we were going, that was kind of a moot point because there was no possible way in the world to let anyone know we weren’t where we ought to be and couldn’t get where we needed to go.
I had just figured out we were where we needed to be and sat my phone in a basket that I had attached to my kayak with Velcro so it would stay firmly in place should the unthinkable happen.
I was lazily cruising a deep hole and needed to do a little steering to reach the next straight stretch of river.
Then the unthinkable happened. From now on, the unthinkable when I am kayaking is totally thinkable.
My kayak spun sideways and before I could figure out I was hung up on something just below the surface, the current tipped my kayak over violently ejecting me head first into the water.
My brain wasn’t keeping up with all of this at all. It was still trying to keep from falling in when I needed to be thinking about getting my head above the water.
Then there was a loud WHOOSH! What in the world was that?
My PFD, personal flotation device, had deployed automatically. CO2 had inflated the life vest that was apparently smarter than I was in these situations and I popped to the top of the water next to my upside down boat.
I managed to clumsily get my kayak right side up and float us both down to some shallow water where my feel touched the bottom and walked the whole mess over to the shore.
My Velcro worked. That little basket was still firmly affixed to my kayak! Unfortunately, it was empty. My phone was somewhere at the bottom of the river.
I looked around some more. It seemed everything else was in tact. I tried to readjust my glasses but was unable to. My glasses must have ejected from my face when my body ejected from my boat.
I’m fairly certain I would have survived this whole ordeal without my PFD. But, maybe I would have gone deeper into that water. Maybe I would have gotten tangled with some trees in the depths. Maybe I would have whacked my skull on a rock. Maybe a lot of stuff.
I’ve always looked at life jackets as nuisances encumbering my freedom of motion and cramping my style.
After that experience, I’ll wear my life jacket like it was the most stylish accessory on the planet.
I think that is how I treated God for a long time, as cumbersome and cramping my style.
I’d grudgingly take him on and look for any excuse to disengage.
But then, I got tired of sinking to the bottom of the muck and mire of the refuse of my desperate efforts to live life on my own terms while leaving him behind because I would more concerned with him cramping my style than my own well-being.
Romans 6:12 Do not let sin control the way you live; which is subject to death. do not give in to sinful desires.
It is funny how I somehow rationalized my rejection of God’s hand of protection in my life as not being sin but rather some sort of me improving on what God is. What kind of stuff was I smoking? I mean, that reasoning isn’t reasoning at all. It is insanity.
If I am living for self and making self appear to be better than it is, that is letting sin control the way I live and, unfortunately, death is lurking right around the corner…or just below the boat.
Living life, abundantly, does not mean I am encumbered by God but instead, I am empowered by him. I can go into the deepest depths and face the fiercest challenge and he is with me ready to WHOOSH to my rescue if I am overcome!