I stared at the small rubber raft and then peered at the mighty Yukon River. It was a perfect day for a float. My friends had left the raft for me to use to get to their cabin about fifty miles downriver. “You won’t have to paddle much,” Tim had said. “The current will take you.”
I tossed my pack into the small craft and launched. That’s when I noticed there was only one paddle. That concerned me, but I was already out into the current and heading north. For a while I tried to steer, but all I managed to do was go in circles. I knew it would take all day to reach the cabin I’d stay in that night, so I wasn’t too worried, though there are strong eddies in the Yukon River and with only one paddle it wasn’t easy to avoid them.
As the small raft carried me north, at a leisurely spin, the silty water hissed against the rubber of the small craft. I remembered Tim’s words. “The current will take you.” Yes, indeed it would, whether I wanted it to or not. My efforts to control where I was going were, at best, pitiful, so I sat back to enjoy the journey. The wilderness was beautiful, but vast and, at times, overwhelming. I felt tiny and rather helpless. Seeing the massive form of a grizzly lumbering through the bush on an island only a few strokes away didn’t help.
I made it to my destination safely that night, launched again the next morning and headed straight across the river. My friends’ cabin was on the other side. If I missed it there would be nothing between me and the Alaskan border. Once again, I had to let the current take me and do what I could with my small paddle.
I’ve heard it said that life is like a river. I believe that’s true and I believe there is One who controls the current. Like my journey on the Yukon, our efforts to control our lives are often futile. But when we realize we can trust the One in control, we can relax. Indeed, we can even take joy in the journey, though there will be strong eddies and perhaps even Grizzlies along the way.
In the book of John, chapter 21, verses 18 and 19, Jesus warns the apostle Peter: “you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
We can take great encouragement from those few words – “by which Peter would glorify God.” What happened to Peter was not in vain; it had a purpose. I believe the events of our lives all have purpose and are meant to bring glory to God.
It all unfolds as we follow Him and take joy in the journey.
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