When I was kid my family used to go to Spring River just south of Mammoth Springs, Arkansas. Spring River is a river that’s source is the Mammoth Spring, one of the largest natural springs in the world. I remember going to the lot we leased and spending day after day fishing, swimming, killing snakes, and exploring. Our lot was located in between two sets of what they called falls. They were 3 to 4 foot rises where the water splashed over them like a small cliff. The trick when you floated in a canoe was to find a place or crevice in the falls where there was a break and go through that area with your canoe. If you didn’t make it to the crevice, you would get stuck and sometimes you could fall into the rocks and get seriously injured. The falls by our lot were not tall enough to cause any major problems with getting hurt, but upstream about one quarter of a mile, there was a huge fall that was at least 8 feet tall in one area. When the weekend would come I would go up to the big falls to watch the weekenders try to navigate them. Who needed television? I would get all the entertainment I wanted watching young and old miss the one crevice available and then try to figure out how to make it out alive. If I would have had a video camera, I would have won every America’s Funniest Videos every year. Hands down!
I got to see the famous canoe spin and drop, the “how long do I have to hang here” suspended stop, the “I don’t want to go any further, ahhhhh”, scream,” and of course, my favorite. The “let’s try to get enough speed and shoot the rapids”….not good. One thing I noticed about everyone who came through was they would either go through the falls or they would stop and quit. If you wanted to keep going you were going to have to go through the falls and they looked menacing from upstream. Also, the falls were not shaped right to go through them unscathed, so you needed to take your bruises and move on. On one particular day I saw a husband and wife coming down in their canoe. A dear lady in her 40’s was apparently talked into floating the beautiful Spring River by her husband and she had not bargained on what she saw was ahead. She promptly jumped in the water and swam to the shore before the current could drag her to the falls and got up on the bank and sat down. The only problem with her getting out was, she was in the back, or drivers seat of the canoe. Her husband realizing he was all alone and sitting in the front frantically tried to get out of the current but, it wasn’t happening. He paddled until he could not paddle anymore and then grabbed the sides of the boat. To everyone’s surprise, he whisked over the crevice perfectly and after some bumping cleared the falls. He was shocked! He looked back at the falls, and his wife on the shore and let out a war whoop. “I made it,” and promptly turned over his canoe. He turned to everyone who was laughing at him and said, “I’m in the water, but I MADE IT! Everyone stopped laughing and applauded. He fell forward.
In your Christian Pilgrimage, you are going to face some falls….some big falls. Around every bend there will be those things that test your faith, that really show who you are and what you are made of. James writes in Chapter 1:2-8 that we are to consider it pure joy when we are tested, because that testing is making us more and more complete in our walk. In that testing we will do some things well and some things not so well. The point I want us to get is that we should never avoid moving forward on this pilgrimage because we see others not handling it well, or because the obstacles look too huge. We should never jump ship, or canoe, and go sit on the shore and become an observer. The testing is for our good and if we fall back from it, we actually move away from where God wants us to be. If we try to go through our life practicing avoidance, pretty soon we will know only defeat. Defeat is not what serving Christ is all about. It is all about VICTORY! You will only see victory in your life when you get in your canoe and say, “bring it on” because God is my navigator.
Life is like a river and new challenges are waiting around every bend, but never forget that we are moving forward toward the destination, the prize. But, don’t get so caught up in thinking about the end of the trip, that you miss the great times on the trip when God is showing you personally how to enjoy His Presence. Those are the best times of your life, but you will never get to experience that very intimate time with Abba Father if you swim to the shore and play it safe.
Oh, you’re gonna fall sometimes when you get tested. Just remember to fall moving forward and you will look back when you make it through and will give out your war whoop. PRAISE GOD! That’s what I like to call Worship…. Don’t forget, if you aim at nothing. You will hit it every time. Aim for something and God will direct your canoe down the river of life.
In the next few days I am going to give some specific “how tos” about how to live a victorious life for Christ. The Pilgrimage continues……. David Warren