I lived just hours from the Tahlequah River in Oklahoma, one of my favorite summer adventures with aunts, uncles and cousins. One year Grandpa and Grandma went with us. Grandma had never learned to swim was extremely fearful of the water. I remember her putting those big, full, orange life jackets around her neck, arms and legs as she joked with us. She was quite a site to see.
There were summers when we got very little rain and we had to drag our canoe across the rough, pebbled, shallow places in the river. Other years the water rushed dangerously fast. Every once in a while someone would capsize and others on the river would stop and help.
The first year my husband and I were married, we camped on the river with another couple and with plans to canoe the following day. In the early hours of the morning, an unexpected storm blew through our camp. The water was so heavy, the tent collapsed. It was cold and miserable.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior, (Isaiah 43:2-3 AMP).
The next morning we gathered what was left of our campsite, packed up and made our way to the river to spend the day in the warm sun, canoeing. The sudden rain caused the river to rise substantially, and the water rushed past at a faster speed than any of us had experienced. Halfway down the river, we came upon a father with his young son.
They were trapped in the rushing water.
I remember the concern on the father’s face, and the fear on the little boy’s face. Then the relief and thankfulness after my husband and his best friend freed them from the tree branches and pulled them safely back to the bank.
There are seasons with little rain and our life ebbs and flows gently. Then a great storm comes along—sometimes in the middle of the night while you’re camping—and turns everything in your life upside down. Your first response might be to panic as the water rises to overtake you, but rest assured, the Lord your Savior, promises to be with you. He promises the waters will not overwhelm you and you will pass safely through as you hold tight to Him.
“If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream.”