I had an amazing experience on one of the last Grand Canyon trips the Lord allowed me to be a part of. This was one of the most difficult trips that we’ve ever taken, from an equipment perspective. Please allow me to share that experience with you.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
The lead boatman on this trip was a lady who everybody called by her last name, Jenkins. (Not her real name!) Jenkins is a fun, free spirited lady and we got along really well.
The entire crew on this trip was made up of her, another boatman and two “Swampers”. (The “Swampers” are many times boatmen in training and they all work very hard on these trips.)
On the first day of the trip the other boatman’s engine broke! No big deal, each boat carries a back-up engine so it was replaced. Onward we go!
On the next day, the “Beaver Tail”, a device that allows the boatman to pull their engine out of the water when a rock is coming, broke on Jenkins boat! That’s not good. There are a lot of rocks on the river and the boatman has to use this equipment MANY times in the course of a trip.
On the third day the main engine on Jenkin’s boat broke! To make things worse while changing the engine out the “Swamper” pinched her had very badly. She ended up having to hike out of the canyon from Phantom Ranch and couldn’t be with us on the rest of the trip.
So, here we are. NO backup engines and Jenkin’s boat isn’t working properly so that she can protect the one engine she has for the rest of the trip. When we came to one of our stops Jenkin’s went off by herself, sat down, stared into space and smoked a cigarette.
I walked over and sat down next to her and asked if she was o.k.! Her response was very honest.
“Carl, you don’t understand the pressure. We don’t have any backup engines, my Beaver Tail’s broken so I can’t protect the engine from the rocks and we’ve still got days to go on the trip. This is bad!”
I praise God for the way that He has prepared each of us to minister to those around us. Because of my background I was prepared to share with her. This was how the conversation went:
Carl: “Jenkins, I get it. I was an Air Traffic Controller for over 24 years. The last 8 years of my career I was at the world’s busiest airport, O’Hare. I understand stress. Let me ask you a question. Are you prepared to lead this trip? Have you done everything that you can to prepare yourself for this?”
Jenkins: “Yes, I have!”
Carl: “Do you trust the team that you have around you and your equipment?”
Carl: “I don’t mean to preach at you Jenkins, but then you need to release the situation to God.”
Carl: “Look, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that when it starts getting crazy and everything is falling apart you have to have a place from which to start to get back in control. If we’ve done everything that we can to prepare to do something, we then turn it over to God and watch what He does with our obedience. I’ve heard people put it this way, “Let go and let God!””
Now before you start tearing me up about how bad, “Let go and let God!” is theologically, keep in mind that I fleshed it out. This was just a part of the conversation.
Interestingly enough, her whole demeanor changed. She brightened up and amazingly the rest of the trip before we would go through a place where she knew that she would have to use her “Beaver Tail” she would call out to me, “Carl, “Let go and let God!”
Needless to say, we made it through the rest of the trip without incident. On the final night the entire crew sat in when we did our devotions and really participated. It was a very encouraging experience for sure.
I don’t know where Jenkin’s is now or where she stands in her faith. During our last conversation she told me that she was going to start going to church when she wasn’t on the river making trips. I pray she did.
More importantly though, I pray she surrendered her life to Christ. Our faith isn’t just about going to a building and singing songs. It’s about complete surrender to the One who made us and loved us enough to die on a cross for us while we were spitting on Him!
Have you ever wanted to see the Grand Canyon up close and personal? Well, consider joining us April 21-29 for what I believe is going to be my last trip down the Colorado River.
We are planning on filming this trip and turning it into two shows. We’ll be going with Jon Albert from Canyon Ministries. We are also blessed to have one of the top Creation Geologists in the world, Dr. Andrew Snelling, with us as well. He’ll be teaching us how to understand what we see in light of the Word of God. You don’t want to miss this trip!