As you probably deduced from our vacation picture post, we went tubing while on our trip in Ellijay, Georgia. It was the first time any of us had gone tubing, and it was quite the adventure. The company we went with said they allowed children aged five and up. However, my parents wisely decided to increase the age limit for our family, and at the end of the trip we were very glad that Carolyn (age 11) was the youngest one with us.
It was a two-hour float down the river, so I had plenty of time to think - something I often enjoy doing. As I was thinking (and floating), I realized there were several parallels between tubing and life. And God used this analogy to help me understand a lot of things He’s teaching me right now.
Those of you who have gone tubing before know that there are a few different “statuses” you will have as you go through the different parts of the river. Some parts (for example, the beginning) are slow and effortless. You’re moving, but not very fast. It was during these times that I sat back and meditated on the beauty of God’s creation around me.
Then, as you slowly make your way down the river, you will eventually approach some rapids. You know you’re getting close to one when you start to pick up speed and you can hear the rushing water up ahead. You mentally and physically prepare yourself for some action. The thing is, you don’t know how big and fast these rapids are going to be. You won’t know, that is, until you’re on the other side of them.
As you get closer and closer to the rapids, your heart rate increases. This is exciting! Rocks are sticking out of the water all around you and you never know when you might hit one just the right way so that it flips you over. Sometimes, you hit one just the wrong way so that you’re completely stuck, hopelessly watching other tubers rush by you. Other times, you don’t hit the rocks at all, but glide over and between them, sighing as you realize you are safely through a stressful moment.
One thing you always have to be mindful of during the float is your position in the narrow width that is called the river. You have two banks to avoid - one on your right and one on your left. If you are wise, you will be alert to any slight drifting you make toward either bank and paddle with your arms to correct yourself. If you are distracted, you will eventually float to one bank or the other and get caught in the rocks, mud, and low-hanging tree branches. It’s not easy to get un-caught.
Once, I got distracted and looked up to find myself headed straight for a huge rock with a big, old, stinky, dead fish on it. It was too late to paddle back to the middle; I had to go over the fish. In the process, I got tangled in some tree branches and spider webs. Talk about haunting. The bottom line is: you want to do whatever it takes to stay in the middle of the river because that is where the water flows the quickest.
Tubing and life have a lot in common. They’re both controlled not by people, but by Water. It’s hard to stay on the straight path, but oh so worth it. Some parts of life are slow, but then there are the rapids. Sometimes you get stuck on the rocks of life, sometimes you flip over, and sometimes you get through smoothly, by the grace of God. But above all, never wish away the slow times for more “exciting” times. Use the slower times to bring glory to God, to rejoice in His works, and to listen to His voice. The rapids will come soon enough.
“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” ~ John 4:10