We glided down the serene stream, as he dug the oar into brisk mountain water. I splashed my fingertips along the gentle ripples. It was the perfect day! The morning spring sun flooded through the pine trees creating a glowing paradise.
“Should I help? You’re doing all the work.” I said breaking the silence we were both content with. This moment was beyond words.
“I’m fine. Just take it all in. Enjoy yourself.”
I leaned my face up to the sun and closed my eyes. It was warm without being hot, and a slight breeze smelling of wild flowers caressed my cheeks. I opened my eyes and became entranced with the clouds floating along. They were free, careless and free. I wondered if I could ever be as weightless as a cloud. Free to wander this beautiful wide world, uninhibited by my cares.
The tussling of our small kayak awoke my daydreaming. We were taking on speed. Ahead of us I could see a fork in the river, one path was peaceful and calm, the other was choppy and rough. I could see the white water and felt my heart jump, surely he would take the other path.
We were on a journey, just the two of us. He knew the destination and I did not. But, he repeatedly reassured me that it was a great and marvelous place that we were headed.
But, as I peered anxiously at the decision before us, I had a suspicion we were headed for rough sailing.
“Sit tight and hang on, we’re going to the left. I’ve got this. We’re gonna just go with flow.” He spoke loudly so I could hear him over the sounds of the quickening waves.
“Why can’t we go the other way, it’s so much easier? I don’t understand.” I gripped the side of our vessel and tried to stay calm.
“This way is best. It’s not the easiest, or the smoothest, but it gets us to our destination in better form. Trust me.” He said with confidence.
Better form? What did that mean? This didn’t make any sense. We probably wouldn’t survive this trip! There seemed to be a waterfall fast approaching and everything within me wanted to panic. This was a horrible idea!
“Why… why do we have to go this way. I’m scared.” I closed my eyes tight as our kayak dipped and swayed.
“Here we go! Isn’t this great! Whoo hoo!!” He hooted. “Here comes the falls, just make sure you hang onto me, I will keep you anchored.”
I was so terrified that I couldn’t even speak. I reached my arms around his waste and squeezed, as I felt gravity release us. I clenched my eyes tight as we tunneled over the watery cliff. Then everything seemed to go in slow motion. I knew we were falling and falling, but somehow I felt safe. I knew I was okay.
All I ever wanted in my life was to feel safe… to be secure. But, even in all my attempts to plan and predict a perfect life, I never felt truly safe. Surprisingly, here in a moment of pure, relentless danger there was a calm that came over me as I held onto him. A weightlessness that defied logic. I could perish at any moment, yet I trusted Him. When I had every reason to feel terror, I felt serenity.
After what seemed like a breathless eternity, we plummeted into the crystal deep. I kept my connection to Him. I held on tight. And there submerged in the cool quietness, I found peace.
I was safe, I was fine…. and then I realized I had let go of Him. I was floating free. I felt His arms wrap around me, pulling to the surface.
I let out a gasp, as air refilled my lungs. We made it! What a ride! I felt a strange sense of accomplishment. We both swam to the waters edge, his strong arms still supporting me.
“We’re here.” He said.
“Really? I can’t believe it.” I remarked, looking around at an indescribable landscape. “I was really afraid back there, but something happened when I came face to face with my fear. I realized it wasn’t so bad, and even if the worst possible thing happened and I died, I was still with you. Nothing can take that away. I just feel different. I know it sounds silly but, something’s changed in me.”
“I’m so proud of you. It was truly an amazing journey!” He grinned.
“So, where are we? You said we’re here, what is this place?” I wondered.
“This is our destination… You’re it! Right here, right now. Your freedom, your joy, your change, your growth. It’s the most important finishline you’ll ever cross. It’s not about getting to a better place, a better life, or an easier bend in the river. It’s about becoming a better, freer you!”
My eyes flooded with tears as I understood completely, “Thank you Jesus. This was the trip of a lifetime. And I am forever grateful. I love you.”
“I love you too, more than you can imagine. And my greatest desire is that you will trust me, through every difficulty, through every challenge, through every pain. I don’t create the rough waters, but I do use them to draw out a greatest and strength that you never knew existed. To set you free!”
I wrapped my arms around his neck and hung on tight. I looked up to the clouds floating above and I felt truly safe.