Staying in the Flow

12 01 2011

Our van driver asked if we had ever tubed the Little Pigeon River before – a picturesque river flowing out of the Smokies through Townsend, Tennessee, a small town where our family was vacationing. With our “no” answer, he began to give us “the rules” of tubing and the flow of the river. He suggested that the four rapid areas were not rough but made a point to tell us to stay to the left on the first rapid run. As our family floated in the cold mountain water, we had a great time laughing together, getting wet together, and enjoying creation together. With one run done, the day was still young and we had time to “ride the river” one more time.

As we entered the water for the second time, I reminded everyone to stay to the left in the first rapids. However, it wasn’t the first set of rapids that was to be the problem this time down.

My family was ahead of me as we entered the second rapid run which gave us no choice but to go left. At the bottom of the run, the river funneled us into a narrow passage with large rocks flanking its borders. For some reason, I had not noticed these large rocks my first time down. As the river carried me closer…and faster…toward the rocks, I felt a slight surge of fear. I noticed I was working harder than I wanted to – fighting the river to keep my feet forward…eyes toward the rocks.

As the river inevitably forced me straight for the largest rock, I managed to work myself into a feet-forward position. The show down with the rock was at hand and I decided, to use my feet to push away from the rock – a natural instinct but not the best idea I have ever had. I found myself, along with the tube, flipping over backwards into the cold, rushing rapids…the energy behind the river rolling me over several times. Finally, when relinquished its control over me, I steadied myself. Now I had a choice: to stay in the flow of the river and let it carry me down to my tube (which had made it just fine), or stand up and make my way to the river’s bank. I chose the bank – again, not my best idea…river rocks are very slippery. I know I must have looked like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz as I tried to reach the bank. Finally with one step to go and the faith that this last rock would be flat, I stepped onto an elusive hope. Down into the water I went once again, cutting my leg on the rock I was relying to provide safety.

Way too often, this seems how it is with my faith – maybe it’s the same with you? I believe we work too hard at our faith sometimes. We try to control our faith…our life circumstance…God. We expend way too much energy trying to hold onto things that cause us anxiety and stress – that is not ours to hold onto.

All the while, there is God’s flow of love, grace, peace, forgiveness, and mercy ready to carry us to a deeper faith…to calmer waters. But instead we take things into our own hands. We look to the riverbank where the ground seems steadier – solid. In our learned self-sufficiency mode, we slip and slide trying to make it to the bank, hurting ourselves at times as we struggle against the flow.

What if our perspective of faith is distorted? I mean, how we go about it. What if instead of working at our faith so hard, instead of trying to control it and mold it ourselves, we let it go? We let it flow…within God’s flow. God’s presence is always flowing for us…within us…beneath us. God’s prayer for us is constantly running through us – even when we are unaware… even when we feel our faith has deserted us. In God’s flow, we will be taken where we need to go. We will gain new perspective in living.

Yes, living into this kind of trust can be scary. The rapids of life seem like they will overtake us at times. We will not always be able to see where we are going. But we will be in God’s flow – limitless love, grace, peace, forgiveness, mercy. We’ll be taken where we need to be…life abundant. It’s the letting go – trusting the waters to take us – that’s the key.

And I thought I was just going tubing!







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