River of Life

Hi, Rob here. A group of us from church went kayaking down the Waikato River on Sunday afternoon. I was excited about the trip and had visions of a gentle paddle, past beautiful scenery as the current swept me along. The reality was very different however. There were two things that I hadn’t allowed for: pain and turbulence. The sitting position in the kayak I had borrowed left me with acute and constant pain in my hips. My Pilates instructor has been working hard on this area with me but clearly we have not gained success yet! The turbulence came from the river itself which is full of little eddy’s and cross-currents, but also speedboats going in the opposite direction, that created huge wakes.

I felt like I was in the middle of a metaphor for life. Yes, the presence of pain can distort even the most pleasant of experiences. The scenery was lovely; picture perfect and yet the constant pain meant I just wanted the experience to come to an end. It is very hard to see past pain. This is why Jesus invites us into emotional healing. He takes us back into our wounds so that we can forgive and be forgiven; so that we can name the wrong that happened to us and be restored by the love of Jesus. The biggest wound we suffer is when our hearts are ignored/abused/misunderstood/betrayed. Jesus restores our hearts, piece by piece and layer by layer. This weekend I felt that Jesus took me back into some late childhood/teenage wounds jsut so he could heal me a little bit more. Beautiful. Thank you Jesus.

Turbulence isn’t our fault, but we do need to learn to navigate it. Some of our group faced the waves front on, others rode them for a bit and fortunately no one got taken out by them. But in life, people do get taken out. The current economic crisis is a case in point. The turbulence has wreaked havoc. We can’t control how others treat us, how people run the economy, how people behave on the roads or people’s thoughts towards us. We simply have to hold onto the kayak and navigate those waves the best way we know how. For us who love and follow Jesus, the best we can do is to cry out to him, hold on to him and trust him as the captain of our ship (sorry, the metaphor’s getting a bit mixed now!).

Here’s the thing: at some stage the journey comes to an end. The river flows out to sea no matter what we do. But we can journey well and help others on their journey. If we trust that the presence of Jesus is with us, that he will lead us well and that we can know him through our new and good hearts, that we are led by his Spirit, then we can get through the pain and the turbulence. We can navigate our way through the journey with confidence and joy. I’m reminded of Hebrews 12:1-3.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with pereverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

My biggest achievement from the trip was that I finished! The pain didn’t stop me, the turbulence didn’t throw me. I made it to the end and that was and will be the biggest joy of all.

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