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Rapids and Rescue

January 13th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 11: 8 (NLT)

8 The godly are rescued from trouble,
      and it falls on the wicked instead.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

When I was about six years old, I went on a canoe trip with our Royal Ranger outpost.  Royal Rangers is a Boy Scout-type program with a religious emphasis.  My dad was the Senior Commander of our outpost, so he reluctantly allowed me to attend the trip, even though I was technically too young.  The only condition was that I had to stay in my dad’s canoe.  No problem, right?

Our watery expedition took place on the Buffalo River in Middle Tennessee.  We arrived there only to discover that a huge storm had raised the water level and scattered debris everywhere in the water.  Trees and branches protruded from the river’s surface creating whirlpools and currents that had already violently sucked several river-goers under.  Needless to say, things were dangerous.

The day had started smoothly and I proudly “navigated” the canoe from my seat in the front.  Only later would I discover that the man in the back of the boat, my Dad, was the one who actually controlled the direction of our little narrow vessel.  Suddenly, we happened upon some trouble.  Two young ladies were caught in an angry current that swirled around a downed tree.  Their canoe was literally being sucked under while they helplessly clung to branches and rocks, striving with all the energy they could muster not to be pulled under.  Their lives were in great peril.

A group of men had gathered near them in water, reaching out to help them get away from the hazard that had caught them in its churning undertow.  My Dad, of course, being our Senior Commander, quickly rowed our canoe over to the shore and made his way out to the scene to assist the others with the rescue. 

But before he exited the canoe, he turned his attention to me and said, “John, stay in the canoe.  Do you understand?”

“Yes sir,” I replied.  I honestly didn’t comprehend the magnitude of the situation; in fact, it excited me so much that I almost saluted my Dad when he gave me his instructions.  I’m sure that my beaming little chubby face was blinding!

Off he went to valiantly save lives and there I sat.  Alone.  Thinking.  Watching.  Drifting.  It didn’t take long for my interest in the situation before me to wane in true preadolescent fashion.  I began to explore the shoreline with my eyes.  The smooth river rocks.  The washed up driftwood.  The sand, different from the ocean beach sand that I knew from my childhood vacations.

These visual explorations began to demand a physical follow-up and, in an honest unconscious act, I stepped out of the canoe and onto the shore.  A few minutes of my nature investigation led me to the shoreline.  The water was relatively calm, nothing like the rapids downstream where my Dad was.  So, I decided to take a little dip, just to cool off.  Besides, I was still wearing my orange life vest—what could possibly go wrong?

I laid back in the water, floating with the help of my life jacket on the surface.  I stared at the blue skies above me.  It was glorious!  A gentle breeze blew across my face and the sun peaked its beams through the branches of the tall trees that lined the shore. 

Honestly, I don’t remember the moment it happened, but something awakened me from the childlike daydream slumber in which I was encapsulated—it was the harsh yelling of grown men.  “Watch out!  He’s getting sucked under!”  Wondering who they were talking about, I looked up just time to behold a huge log in front of me generating a whitewater deathtrap beneath its vast girth and I quickly realized that the mysterious “doomed person” in question was me! 

I had unknowingly drifted all the way to the place where the men were trying to help the young ladies out of danger.  It all happened in a flash, but I distinctly remember someone grabbing hold of my vest and pulling me up just before the undertow sucked me under.  It was my cousin, David, who was the closest one to me.  He literally saved my life, risking his own in the process.


Thankfully, everyone was okay—or at least that’s what I thought.  My Dad, a gentle man, pulled me to safety and then to the shore.  It was there, in front of all of the other canoers, that I received a stern and swift correction for my misdeed.  It was well deserved.  

From this passage, notice that the only difference between the “righteous” and the “wicked” is the Rescuer.  The Bible is very clear that we’ve all drifted . . . that we’ve all sinned.  What matters, though, is whether or not we have given our lives over to the rescue of grace.  Only then will we be pulled from the rapids of destruction.

Thanks David!


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