This past July, my family was invited to join a few others on a river rafting trip down the Arkansas River near Buena Vista, Colorado. My first inclination about this invitation was “absolutely NO.” Before this past July, the closest thing I had ever done to white water rafting was Silver Dollar City’s “Lost River of the Ozarks.” and that was a bit of a white knuckler for me. Needless to say, my skill level is not that great. In addition, I am somewhat scared of water, not being a great swimmer. If it were up to me, I would never even venture ONTO the river alone, much less try to navigate class 3 rapids in an inflatable raft with my family in tow.
As we pondered the invitation more, however, we began to reconsider. Two things changed our minds. First, there was something truly exhilarating about the thought of taking this trip down the river. Second, we became familiar with the good people at Noah’s Ark river rafting, meeting the experienced guide who would pilot our boat down the river. The allure of adventure plus the skill of the expert guide were enough to get us in the boat and on the water.
Though I had no skill or knowledge of the river on my own, my guide was able to steer our boat to just the right angles and at just the right speeds to make it down the river safely. Sure, the guide asked me to paddle from time to time, but clearly He was the one moving the ship.
Three hours after boarding the boat, we got off having successfully navigated the river rapids. The trip was a total blast and there was a great sense of accomplishment as we hit the shore. As I stood on the shore and pondered the experience, however, I was struck with how silly it would be for me to boast about my river rafting experience. I made it down the river relying on someone else’s skill and experience. I simply had the joy to paddle along and enjoy the ride.
Living a life of purpose, on mission with Jesus Christ is kind of like standing on the edge of the Arkansas River sometimes. Surveying our own skills and experience, many times we feel scared to step into the water aboard a ministry raft. Some turn down a lot of ministry opportunities out of a fear that we are inadequate for the job. We are unsure of our own abilities in the Christian life, so the thought of leading others onto this river terrifies us! In 1 Corinthians 12, however, the Apostle Paul encourages all believers in Jesus Christ that they have a guide in the “boat” with them who wants to help them navigate the river of living water. Jesus Christ wants to involve us in His plans and He has placed within us the Holy Spirit as our guide to take us places that would otherwise be impossible.
Knowing the presence of the Spirit in our lives, also should prevent us from boasting about our ministry service. We get to navigate these rapids NOT because of our own skill, experience, or power, but because of His presence with us in the boat.
This Sunday morning at WIldwood, we will be looking at select verses from 1 Corinthians 12 in part 7 of our series “Lego Church: Built to Be Together,” and expanding further on the thoughts included in this brief post. I hope you will join us in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship service this week!