A Devotional Thought
by Marilyn Bennett
The River of God
Last year, I convinced a new friend to go white water rafting with me on the American River. The website said the experience would be mild. I have rafted a lot of rivers in various parts of the United States, so I was looking forward to the experience much like hikers love to hike, painters love to paint, golfers love to golf, or bikers love to bike. My new friend wasn’t sure if she would like it. So as we drove 30 miles to the launch site, I was trying to convince her that the ride would be safe.
However, I did not tell her not all rafting is safe. I rafted twice on each of the Rogue, the Rio Grande and the Colorado rivers and once on the Montana River in Glacier National Park. My first experience on the Colorado at Breckenridge was a nice mild ride, but the next day the ride turned frightening because of a storm the night before. The water was so rough that our guide flipped out of the raft and no amount of rowing could get us back to her.
Fortunately, we remembered her instructions so we were able to keep afloat. Even while the water poured into our raft and we were about to sink, we got back on the river WITHOUT OUR GUIDE and sailed down fairly quickly. What we did not know was that we needed to land on the left side of the river before entering the notoriously dangerous part of the Colorado.
I did not really know the other people in the raft, so I cannot speak for them, but I PRAYED. Boy, did I pray. I knew we were in trouble. We poured ourselves into rowing because our lives were at stake. Out of the blue, another raft (all men) pulled up alongside us (all women). Two men jumped into our raft while two of our women leaped into theirs. Now we had more rowing power to finish our ride. Plus, these physically fit men had done this many times before and knew the way.
Off we went, certain we would be okay. However, after we landed, one of the ladies had a heart attack and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. As the ambulance sped off, our guide took us up a hill to look at the part of the river that was ahead had we not docked the raft where we did. I thanked God that we made it safely and prayed for the lady who was in danger of dying of a heart attack. In the end, we were all miraculously saved from death.
Back to my nervous friend. I had heard the American River was the best river ever and had wanted to raft on the river since I moved here in 2006. However, due to my beloved husband’s battle with cancer and his subsequent death, I was never able to go. I decided this would be the year and I was excited.
After paying for the ride, they told us to put on a life preserver and a helmet. In all my rafting, I have never worn a helmet. They told us that was the law in California so I complied. Little did I know that we would encounter a level 5 rapid (the most dangerous), which was the real reason for the helmet.
There are many times when the unexpected happens. We have the choice to respond with confidence or fear. When Peter left the boat to walk to Jesus on water, he had not expected to sink, but he did. However, Jesus had said to him, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” So, as Peter sank, he reached out for Jesus, which is exactly what we should do.
Psalm 46:4 says, “
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”
During this pandemic, instead of choosing fear, choose to reach out to Jesus, the river of God.