Our pastor, on Sunday morning, told of his experience this past week. He and his wife had gone out for a day’s excursion down a beautiful local river with their motor boat and kayaks along with some friends who brought their speed boat.
Late afternoon they pulled into a pretty spot along the river bank. They stayed too long, the fall sunset comes early and they realized they would probably not make it back before dark.
They travelled together for a time, then their friends in the speed boat declared that since it was a school night they needed to get back and with a quick farewell , stepped on the gas pedal and roared out of sight.
Not two minutes later, our pastor’s boat stalled and refused to start. Were they out of fuel? Or the boat not in good repair? To make their predicament more serious, their cell phone showed no reception. It was now dark. What could they do, other than spend an uncomfortable night camped on the shore? They thought fast and came up with the plan that if the pastor’s wife and the friend that was with them tied the two kayaks to the boat they might be able to pull the boat with the pastor helping to row . This they did and after struggling a short distance down the river found that they now had cell phone connection.
It was short lived, however; only long enough to shout, “We are stranded, send help!” Did the message get through? They did not know.
Finally, a couple of hours later, they saw the welcome sight of Search and Rescue coming toward them. Helping them into the rescue boat, the officers reminded them to put on their life jackets. Ignoring safety rules, they had not been wearing them and the pastor’s life jacket was no where to be found, along with one of the kayaks.
They were brought to safety, their river trip a little more exciting than they had anticipated !
As I thought about their experience, I realized it lent itself as a perfect analogy of the Christian’s life .
Christians travel down the river of life toward their eternal destination – home with Jesus.
As they travel along, their attention is at times diverted by the things of this world lining the banks of the river.
At times they head for shore and pull up their boat to enjoy the pleasures the world has to offer.
Sometimes they stay too long and find that darkness is overtaking them. Some have speed boats and they rush back to safety.
But others have not been so diligent in keeping themselves ‘fuelled up’ or their ‘boat’ in good repair, and suddenly they find that they are stranded – their boat dead in the water. Have they ignored the voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives? Are they ‘empty’ of His power ?
Fearful of the danger they find themselves in, they call out to the Lord. But their ‘connection’ is not good… they have also neglected their times of fellowship with the Lord and now when they are in need of it, connection cannot be found.
Now, suddenly they make the effort, willing themselves back into a place where they can find the Lord. For a minute, they see heaven open and they cry out! But then darkness again closes around their soul and they wonder. Was it enough? Had He heard? Would He answer?
The darkness around them is frightening, they long for the comfort of the assurance that they are not alone, that the Lord is with them. Then, they see in the distance that help is on its way. God did hear and God heard and sent ‘search and rescue’ to find them. But where are their life jackets? God’s Word left lying unopened in the bottom of the 'boat'? Or worse – lost somewhere?
What relief floods their soul… what gratitude to the Lord for His care. Will it make them more careful next time to avoid the dangers of the ‘river journey’ ?
Jud 1:21 "keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
“Dear Lord, we thank you for the river of life that you have placed us on with the sure hope of our destination. Thank you for the safely of the ‘boat’ of your love. May we remember to stay full of the Holy Spirit that ‘fuels’ us and keeps us moving forward. May we keep ourselves in prayer and in Your Word to keep us safe and strong! May we not be distracted by the worldly pleasures that pull us away from you. May we keep our eyes on You and on our goal! Amen”