For What It’s Worth... Tubing down a river
I am fresh off the inner tube of our annual youth Ichetucknee River experience. As I meandered down the river, letting the current push me along the beautiful landscape, I came to reflect on this tubing journey as an analogy for our Christian walk.
It all begins with getting wet! When you enter your tubing adventure down the Ichetucknee one must enterthe head waters from a dock into “deep” water. There is no wading in slowly – one moment you are on the dock and the next you are in the water (hopefully, with your tube still under you). This reminds me ofbaptism. Baptism marks the beginning of our journey as a church member, whether old or young... it makesno difference - baptism begins the journey. Baptism reminds us that we are God’s for the long ride. Tubingdown the river communicates the same thing. There is no exit point until you finish the ride!
Another parallel that came to me as I wafted down the river was differences in the current of the river, even along the same stretch of water. Some areas of the river seemed to move faster than others – following a turn to the right the faster moving water was on the left while the area to the right was relatively still; filled with river grass and various aquatic plants. So, if we consider that this river as the ongoing persistent work of God in our lives - God is moving us each forward through the force of God’s own will. And like the force of theriver, we will all eventually get to the end of the journey, where we are told in the Bible there will be a greatfeast (when our youth finally got out of the river, at the exit point, we feasted on something called “walking tacos” – ask Mircia for the recipe – they were good!).
While it is true that God can and will get us all to the end; it is also true that we have a lot of decisions to make along the way. While I was on the river, I could choose to the get into the faster moving waters and/or use my arms and legs to propel myself a little faster. I could steer with those same appendages going left or right. Another choice I could make is to linger for a while in the weeds or areas of slack water in small estuaries just off the main river. In other words, while the water pulls us and pushes we are still navigating our own tube. I would speed up or slow down to meet up with different people I wished to talk with along the journey. I could help pull someone from the weeds or just horse around in a splash contest. I could pause to stare at the beauty of an aquatic flower or sunbathing turtle on a log. This last set of thoughts reminded me of thequestion I would like to ask God (which I mentioned in a sermon just weeks ago). “How can God’s Sovereignty and Human Free Will both be true?” Perhaps it is something like a river pulling us along its course while wealso navigate on those very same waters on tubes.