In this final article let’s flesh out how to transition from the “river” to the “real” world!
2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Taking Pleasure in Tribulation!!!
Make sure to check out the first two installments so this part makes sense. In Part 1 we shared how Lee came to the Lord. In Part 2 we shared about the conversation with Lee the day after he received the Lord. Now, we transition from the river to the real world.
That word “distresses” in 2 Corinthians 12:10 literally means, “troubles, difficulties and challenges.” How can a Grand Canyon river trip help us to take pleasure in troubles, difficulties and challenges? Let me explain and I’ll tie this all together.
After Lee and I had our conversation on the river I had the opportunity to share with Tom. I shared the analogies that I used to try and help Lee understand how he was a new creation. After hearing everything Tom looked at me and said, “Let me tell you how I train a boatman to run the river!” I find the parallels pretty amazing.
Here are the 4 points that Tom uses to teach anyone who wants to be the lead boatman. They must:
- Look for the starting point or the “tongue.”
- Identify the obstacles.
- Plan your course.
- Find a point of reference, (a marker rock) to stay on track.
When Tom told me these I was amazed at how these four points apply to our spiritual lives as well. Let me explain how these can be used in dealing with troubles we all encounter.
1. Look for the starting point or the “tongue.” (Because, remember what Lee said, “If you have a good start, most of the time you’ll have a good finish!”)
Deuteronomy 10:12, 13
12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
May I suggest to you that if Christians have this as our starting point, we’re more than likely going to have a good finish!
2. Identify the obstacles.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
If we are totally honest, this passage sounds like the programming that we see on the majority of television programs, movies and video games today. We have unfortunately allowed these mediums to influence us in a dramatic manner. We must identify the obstacles that are keeping us from being the “light” that God has called us to be and then act accordingly!
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Christian, as these verses tell us, when we “lack wisdom” we must “ask of God” for the answers and stop allowing man’s wisdom to usurp the Word of God. When we have the majority of youth who are raised in the church, leaving the church by the time they are 18 we can KNOW that double-mindedness is running rampant.
Parents, begin today teaching your child how to start their thinking from the Word of God to deal with the issues the world is throwing at us on a daily basis.
3. Plan your course.
2 Timothy 3:14
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Now that is a plan! When the body of Christ actually lives what they say they believe, good things happen. The Lord blesses obedience! And finally:
4. Find a point of reference, “a marker rock” to stay on track.
Blessed be the Lord my rock
That “Rock”, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Chief cornerstone and He will never let you down! When we approach the troubles in our lives with these four points, it makes all the difference in the world. Those troubles become times of growth when we have a plan to deal with them. In order to accomplish this, let’s begin with a “good start!”
Please allow me to wrap this up with another story. As I thought about what Tom had told me something occurred to me. As we travel down the river there are certain spots where Tom will turn off the boat’s engines and step up on the boatman’s box and speak with us. Whenever he does this I have the same response every time. My heart jumps!!!
You may ask, “Why is that?” Well, it’s because I know what’s coming!! I’ve been on the river many times with Tom and I know that he does this at very specific points along the river. I look at Tom and tell him the same thing every time, “Get me wet!”
Tom does this just before we’re about to go into the most challenging rapids. He’s giving us instructions on what we need to do to keep safe and enjoy the challenge we’re about to face. I can’t wait to get into the rapid.
Something hit me as I reflected on this. WHY do I get so excited? The answer to that is easy, I trust Tom. We’ve done this many times together and I KNOW he will get us through the challenge.
Something else hit me. What if Lee was the boatman? Remember, this was only his third trip down the river. What if Lee were to step up onto the boatman’s box and start talking, what would my response be?
Well, it would probably be, “Lee, I love you brother, but why don’t you pull over to the side here and let me off. I’ll walk down the side of the mountain and meet you after the rapid!” The reason for a response like that would be because I don’t trust Lee, because he doesn’t have the experience and we don’t have the relationship to give me peace and confidence.
May I say that God is the ultimate boatman in our lives. When we have a relationship with Him and trust Him our responses to tribulation will be very different than if we don’t trust Him! When we put everything that we have and everything that we are into His hands we can sit down, hang on and enjoy the ride!
Please allow me to pray for us,
Lord, get us wet! Help us to grow in our trust of you not only in the difficult times, but in every circumstance and situation. God may we trust you regardless of what is taking place in our lives and give glory to you always. Thank you for your love and grace to a people who truly don’t deserve it!!
In Jesus name!
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.