“You nervous?” Todd asked me, handing me my wetsuit.
“Nervous? Why should I be nervous?” I asked. I’d gone whitewater rafting several times before and it was no big deal. Besides, I’d grown up around water- if spending lazy summers poolside at the NCSU Faculty Club counted. I might be a klutz on land, but in the water I could be graceful and swift. Strong, even.
“With the spring melt, the water is really high today,” our guide warned us, “so don’t get cocky. Remember, it’s more powerful than you, and it goes where it likes. If you get tossed off far from the boat, just turn yourself into a ball -don’t fight. Let the water be in charge. Try to keep calm and you’ll bob to the surface. Believe me, any problem you have won’t be with the water- it’s the rocks along the way, so don’t try to walk your way out. Ride the water like it’s an easy chair-your nose and toes up. It’ll take you where it wants you to go.”
It’s a good thing I listened. About 20 minutes into our ride, I was riding the Cheat River Lazy Boy, oar gone, glad for my helmet, trying to see through the drips down my glasses where the water was taking me next.
I remembered that day this morning after I was listening to the news and getting ready for work. Story after story was dragging me down, making my heart race, breaking the calm I had felt as I first sipped my coffee, reviving yesterday’s fear and frustration and despair. First it was about the refugees, most of them women and children. How could Christians be okay with turning them away? Then I thought of Muslim friends who are worried about bigotry and what it will mean for their lives, people I know in the military who are worried about torture and what it will mean for their lives, people I know whose children have pre-existing conditions and are worried about their healthcare and what that will mean for their lives, people I know who teach in Title 1 public schools who are concerned about funding and what that will mean for their schools and their students’ lives. And I began to sink into fear…frustration…despair.
STOP! I said, and turned off the radio. I needed God’s calm, God’s guidance. I needed to stop listening to the roar of fear, frustration, and despair, and listen for God in the storm.
“Like flowing water, God always finds a way through” wrote Richard Rohr, in his meditation I read today. Like flowing water, God always finds a way through. I put on my tennis shoes and went for a quick walk, focusing on the image of flowing water, of God moving in, trickling, rushing. I thought of whitewater and then the Cheat River.
It’s true, isn’t it? Even in the darkest of times, God finds a way in. God’s done it before and God is doing it now. God is already there, at the refugee camps, in hospital rooms, and in all those places wherever people call God’s name.
But is that enough?
I don’t think so. Not for the people of God. We can’t just hand God our worries and say we’re done, wrap up in a towel, and sit down on the riverbank to watch God do God’s stuff.
No, from the time we begin to follow God, from our first steps into baptismal waters, God invites us into the trickling, rushing flow with him. God says, Remember, my love is more powerful than evil. I will go where I like. Come join with me. If you’re bogged down in despair, in fear, in frustration, flow with me. Don’t fight Me. Let go and let Me be in charge. Breathe. Let me lift you. Believe me, any problem you have won’t be of my doing. It’s the rocks along the way- the FEAR, the need to control, the prejudice, the greed, the pride that will catch your feet. Those things will ensnare you if you give them power, so let me hold you. Ride the flow of my spirit like it’s an easy chair-your nose and toes up. Let me take you where I want you to go.
Are you watching from the sidelines or are you up to your neck in the Flow? How is God using you to bring God’s love and comfort and justice and mercy to others?
Maybe this is the time we’ve been waiting for to RISE UP and jump in, to bring God’s living water to a world who needs it!
Yeah, kind of.
God, carry us as we talk to people and write letters and do what we can to serve you. Be in charge. Take us where you want us to go.
Photo by heschong