Here’s a short story to encourage all of us to be “Thankful”!
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
My last trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon caused me to do a lot of reflecting. It’s been over 4 years since I’d had the privilege of sharing the Canyon with folks. God has allowed me to be involved with a number of other trips and it’s always a special time that will cause you to think.
I call the Colorado River a land of “extremes”! What I mean by that is you will go from extreme heat to extreme cold, extreme calm to extreme rush etc. in an instant. For example, the sun will be baking you, then you get hit by a splash of the Colorado River and you’re freezing in an instant. (The Colorado River comes out of the Glen Canyon Dam at 42 degree’s. Don’t worry, it get’s warmer. It’s about 46 degree’s by the time we helicopter out!)
Over the years I’ve had some very special opportunities and growing experiences because of this trip. This last time was no different. It’s always a privilege to give devotions in such a special setting.
One of the reasons that devotions seem to be so powerful is because there’s no technology to distract you. The iPad’s, iPhone’s, Androids and whatever device you have is useless! And a watch is a waste of time! We tell everyone on the first day the best thing they can do is take their watch off and pack it. That’s because we’re on “river time” for the next 7 days. We will eat every morning at 8:30 AM, eat lunch every day at Noon and eat dinner every day at 6 PM. Regardless of the time!
It’s in these circumstances that you will reflect on what is truly important. Whatever sports team or celebrity you may follow becomes irrelevant here. You just don’t hear about that for the duration of the trip.
On the last day of the trip I was able to give one last devotion before we went back to the “rim world”. This is always a bittersweet time because I know what’s about to happen.
I asked the question, “Think about what’s taken place over the last 6 days. What is one of the memories that you have where something really special happened. Something that made you feel really good.” I’m not talking about the scenery, which is spectacular, or teaching. Just something that happened that made them feel good!
Having a cup of cool water in the evening. The crew at the end of the day would put out an ice chest that had ice in it and we could break off a piece and put it in our drink. Man, that cool water tasted soooo good. An ice cube was a special memory for me! (Psalm 42:1 takes on a new meaning when your on hikes in the side canyons and you run out of water! Even warm water works then.)
A shady spot on the river. On the second to the last day of the trip it got HOT. We were pretty much being baked as we floated the river. I will not forget coming around a corner and there being a spot of shade that we were in for a few minutes. That shade was so refreshing!
Later some of my fellow “river rats” shared some of their special memories and they were:
The boatmen taking out a “Super-soaker” and creating a mist to cool them off.
When we passed out snacks during the trip and folks were getting a little hungry. They got an apple, and enjoyed it!
We were getting ready to eat dinner one evening and the wind stopped blowing so we escaped having sand in our dinner.
Seeing the stars at night!
Think about how insignificant these things are in our daily lives here in the “rim world”? How many of us truly are appreciative that we have an ice cube for our drink or a spot of shade or splash of water to cool us off? This is so small in our every day lives. We have air conditioners that we turn up if it gets above 65 degree’s. I like it cool! Ice, seriously, just go to the cup of water sitting on the counter that has frozen because it’s so cold in the house! No wind, sand in the food???? That’s not even a thought.
Over the 7 days that we’re together in the river people pull together and work to make the trip a special time. For example:
I see people who physically should NOT be able to make the hikes that we do. But they make it because people rally around them. They will extend a hand and pull them or push them at key points. We spot each other at tricky spots to make sure that no one gets hurt. No grumbling!
Folks speak words of encouragement to someone who may be feeling down or discouraged. No grumbling!
We band together to empty hundreds of pounds of materials every night to set up camp and then come back together to pack it all up in the morning. No grumbling!
People will carry someone else’s bag because it’s too heavy for them, they will help them set up a tent or tear it down even though they themselves never used it! No grumbling!
33 people share 1 toilet when we are at camp! No grumbling!
We volunteer to wash other people’s dishes, or to work in the kitchen. No grumbling!
We bath in water that’s only 42 degree’s!!!! No grumbling. You can’t, you’re frozen!
Now, fast-forward to why I say the last day is bittersweet. I told you, I know what’s coming. As soon as we catch the helicopter back to the “rim world”, things start to change.
At the Bar 10 ranch we take our first hot shower in a week. There’s still no technology though. People will still look you in the eye’s and talk to you. Then we catch our flight back to Las Vegas and it happens! We get there and technology takes over and the culture catches up to us. People don’t speak with each other like they do on the river. Their faces are in their phone reading messages or they are on their phone. Offer to carry someone’s bag and they think you’re trying to rip them off. Extend a hand to help someone and get a look that you won’t soon forget.
I’ve often dreamed of figuring out how to bottle up what happens on the Colorado and bring it back with us? All I’ve come up with so far is to begin with me. I’ve got to be thankful, truly thankful, for all that I’ve got and live a life that brings honor to the one who gave it to me. It’s overwhelming to say the least. I have to stick with what I say a lot to stay on track. I don’t want to just “talk” a good game, I truly want to live it! God blesses obedience.
Stay Obedient, Stay Thankful and Stay Bold!
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.