I spent a few days this week with our pastoral staff and spouses hanging out with other pastors and spouses from our network — two great days of conversation, talks on marriage, just hanging out, and worship. During our worship time, Pastor Stac read from Psalm 91 — good stuff — including the words,
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.“
On the way there we crossed over the Youghiogheny River. That and those verses reminded me of a teachable moment God gave me a few years ago. We went whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny — heading there with with some family and friends, I went with a little fear and trepidation…(not so much for myself mind you, but for the others). One of the instructions we were given at the beginning was when (not if but when) you get thrown out of your raft and into the river — DON’T TRY TO STAND. The majority of people who drown are those who try to stand. When they try to stand, the current keeps pulling at them, their foot gets caught in the rocks and under they go…never to be heard of again. I remember this instruction very well.
I share it with my kids every time they go whitewater rafting.
So… WHEN I fell in…I have to be honest. I tried to stand. I don’t know if it was a natural reaction or stupid self-confidence. But I couldn’t stand. Fear washed over me like the cold water of the river. I had no control. I’m lucky my foot didn’t get caught. But here was the teachable moment — as I floated down the river with my feet in the air, past the guide who was STANDING on a rock in the middle of the river, I realized that the problem was not my inability to stand. The problem was the size of my rock.
The psalmist tells us that if we live in the shelter of the Most High, we will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty because God is our refuge. The Prophet Isaiah said, “God is the rock of all ages.”
Obviously, I made it out of the water. How did I get out? The guy on the rock — the big rock — he threw me a rope. Guess what the Hebrew word for “hope” means… throw a rope, or get attached by a cord. How cool is that? God stands in the midst of the turmoil, he is not only a rock that cannot be moved, a refuge and a shelter — but he throws you a cord of hope and says “Hang on, let me pull you up here.”
When you fall into the whitewater turbulence of life — you’ve got your feet up in the air because you can’t stand — and you find yourself floating by a rock that looks like a refuge, watch for the rope…