Hear more from an experience Carl had while running the rapids on the Colorado River! Hang on!
In Part 1 I shared Lee’s conversion on the Grand Canyon Raft trip and told you I’d share some life lessons that I learned from this experience. By the way, this information is also on the DVD entitled, “Learning to Deal With Life’s Difficulties on the Colorado River.”
The day after Lee’s conversion I intentionally got on his boat. I had not been able to sleep that night. You see, my fear was that Lee would not grow in his faith. I’ve seen many people who “walk forward” and then never see any sign that Jesus is the Lord of their life. So, I wanted to find a way to turn the conversation to spiritual matters.
The one thing that came to my mind as I tossed and turned that night was something a good friend, Mark Cahill, once told me. He said, “Carl, Evangelism is a conversation, not a presentation!” This has stuck with me for a long time now.
As we floated down the river I sat next to Lee and started up a conversation. I asked him, “Lee, what do you want to be when you ‘grow up’?” I was messing with him.
Lee responded with, “I want to be the lead Boatman!”
I then asked him what is the most difficult part of being a boatman and he responded with, “Learning how to run the rapids!” That was especially interesting to me because that is the part that I love the most on the trips!
So, I asked him how he was taught to run the rapids. His response provided the opening that I’d been praying for!
He told me that he was taught to run the rapids by the lead Boatman. They would stop the boat just before the actual rapids and walking him up the side of the mountain. From that vantage point could see everything. They could see what was going on leading up to the rapid as well as what to expect after they had finished with the rapid. It was very important to have all of this information when making the decision on how they would navigate it.
There was one piece of information that they needed to start the decision making process though. They had to find a very specific feature at the very beginning of the rapid.
He said the first thing that they had to find was called “the tongue!” It was where the current came together to form an funnel, so to speak. (See the Yellow arrow below.)
The “tongue” is where you want to enter the rapids.
He explained, “If you have a good start, you’ll probably have a good finish!” (Remember that statement!)
Once he found the starting point then he had to see what was going on between the start and the finish. One of the things to watch for are rocks. (See the Orange circles below.) Many times when you’re on the river it’s almost impossible to see the rocks until you are almost on them, so in a rapid you need to know where they are along your path.
In addition to rocks there are things like whirlpools and eddies that you don’t want to get caught in. When you are on the side of the mountain, you can see those things and plan ahead on how to avoid them.
You’re thinking, “Big deal, there’s nothing to that.”
You couldn’t be further from the truth. That is a 20 foot tall wave and you better be ready for it because when it hits your boat . . . let me put it like this, it’s a rush! You gotta’ come down the river with us!
Lee explained that after you check all of this out, only then can you make a plan of attack on how to run the rapid and handle all of the challenges. (See the Blue line below.)
He continued and explained that once you have the plan, you make your way back down to the boat, but the entire while you have to focus on the “tongue” or your “starting point.”
“There’s only one problem,” Lee said. “Carl,when I got in the boat and back on the river I couldn’t see my starting point anymore, because my perspective changed!”
I saw my opportunity, “Lee, you’ve just explained the Christians life to me!” He looked at me a little strangely. I explained to Lee that he was a new person, that God had created a new heart and mind in him when he received the Lord. The only problem is that the old sinful self still hangs on. He was going to have to learn how to deal with the challenges of living in a fallen world from a different perspective.
I wanted to illustrate what I was talking about to make sure he understood what I meant. So then my thought was, how do I transition from the river, to the real world. It was at that moment I believe God gave me some insights to connect with Lee.
Carl – “Lee, would you run the river by waking up in the morning and deciding that you were just going to run the river based on your feeling? Would you think, I’m going down the left side of the river because I feel like it?”
Lee – “No!”
Carl – “Why not?”
Lee – “Because those rocks are over there and I’d get stuck!”
Carl – “Well, it’s the same thing in our lives. If we try to run our lives based on our feelings, we’re going to end up in some bad places because there is a way that seems right to us, but it leads to death! What’s amazing to me is that God gives us the freedom to make those choices. The only problem is that we all have to suffer the consequences of those choices that we make, the same way a boatman has to deal with the consequences of the decisions they make.”
Lee – (Just looking at me.)
Carl – “How about this, would you run the river by waking up in the morning and just deciding to follow the first person to come along?”
Lee – “No!”
Carl – “Why not?”
Lee – “Because I don’t know if that person has done their homework or not. They may not have studied the rapid before running it.”
Carl – “Lee, don’t follow me, I’m a fallen man that can and does make mistakes. Jesus says to follow Him, He’ll never let you down or forsake you.”
Lee – (Just looking at me.)
Carl – “O.K., what if your best friend in the entire world was up on the side of that mountain and you guys had a two way radio and he’s talking with you. He’s reminding you of where the tongue is and what to look out for. ‘Get a little bit more to the right Lee, good, you’ve got a good line. Remember, hit it hard to the right, that rock’s coming up! Great, a little to the left, here comes the wave!’ Would that make your job easier!”
Lee – “Yes, that would make it a LOT easier!”
Carl – “Lee, that’s the relationship that we have with God. He see’s the beginning, He see’s the end and everything that goes on in between. He’s given us His Word, the Bible, to help us so that as we go through life we can know where the “rocks” and “waves” are. Because you see Lee, no matter how good of a friend you have on the hill what happens if the radio breaks for the batteries go dead. He can’t communicate with you anymore. But, no one can take you out of Jesus’ hand. You will always be able to communicate with Him. And His Word is true, from the beginning to the end. We just have to learn how to use it!”
Our prayer is that you are using God’s Word for your life to deal with the “rocks” and “waves” in your life. If not, you may end up in some places that you don’t want to be. If you are there, let me encourage you. Turn your life over to the Master Boatman, the one who wants to deliver you from these difficulties.
Jesus Christ will never leave you nor forsake you. As a matter of fact, He will reach down and lift you up from whatever you are dealing with. In Part 3, we will transition from the river, to the real world and show the biblical principles of each of the points in this article.
Carl Kerby is an inspiring, motivating and highly respected Christian speaker. With more than 20 years of ministry experience, Carl shares his extensive knowledge and understanding of God’s creation in his presentations, outreach events, books and other resources as the President and founding board member of Reasons for Hope, Inc.