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« Can I Get Back With You Later? | Main | Things That Must Not Be Lost »


extreme rafting new river.jpgWhitewater rafting down the New River in West Virginia looked like a fun family thing to do one summer. Armed with helmets, paddles, life preservers, and a ten-minute safety course, we put in. The guide perched on the back of the raft, barking orders and issuing warnings. The one thing he kept reminding us about was that Surprise was coming.

The down river venture was a piece of cake. We skimmed a few mild rapids and rammed a few rocks on the way. We laughed when the playful guide purposely threw Ross and Rene’ in the water. We joked our way down the stream, talking about everything under the sun. Whatever Surprise was all about, we knew we could handle it.

Surprise was the locals’ name for a particularly rough section of the New River . The water foamed and swirled like a gigantic washing machine. We hit it driving hard, paddling furiously—-just not furiously enough. I looked over and saw my wife’s’ feet shoot straight up in the air. Into the waves she went! Before I could say a word, the raft tilted sharply. I lost my footing and disappeared over the other side of the raft and into the rapids. I couldn’t believe it—-both of us thrown from the boat!

Unable to breathe, I fought to get to the surface, only to be thrust back down by the churning waves. At that moment, I couldn’t decide if I was in real trouble yet, but I knew something had to happen fast. Just as I felt panic rise to my throat, I realized that the current had carried me toward the quieter water. I stuck my nose and mouth out of the water and gulped in air. Fatigue overwhelmed me.

When they finally pulled me back into the raft, I discovered that the guide had thrown Sandy a rope and had pulled her to safety. I lay on my back in the bottom of the raft and managed a weak laugh. Inside, I was just glad to be alive. Other than Sandy losing her favorite shoes, and all of us gaining a harrowing experience, we were okay.

“Surprise,” Jeremy, our guide grinned. Now I know why the cameras were set up on the banks alongside Surprise. The pictures are hilarious—-now.

This tale from the Jordan vacation is not intended for entertainment purposes. Rather, I have a vivid picture in my mind of the church as the ship of Zion . The wind and the waves challenge everyone aboard. Some have failed to keep their footing as the waters became rough.

Do you find yourself fighting with your schedule in order to be in church services on a regular basis? When you do manage to keep Sundays and Wednesdays free, are you so tired that coming to church seems more of a chore than a joy? After you miss several services, do you feel so guilty about it that you dread showing your face?

Your relationship to God cannot be divorced from your relationship to your church. I firmly believe that to serve God is to be deeply involved in the local assembly of believers. You must not be thrown off. If you are lulled to sleep and think you can survive without faithful and committed involvement in your church, Surprise will teach you a hard lesson.

  • Every believer needs preaching—-strong, anointed and often.
  • Every believer needs teaching. It keeps us thinking straight.
  • Every believer needs to worship God with the church.
  • Every believer needs time to pray at the altar.
  • Every believer needs fellowship with other saints.
  • Every believer needs to be pastored.

Anyone who forfeits a viable and active participation in the church literally chokes off the flow of spiritual food to his or her soul. I have never known anyone who has grown stronger spiritually by staying out of church. On the other hand, I am acquainted with many who have deeply damaged their heart and conscience by lack of attendance. Don’t let that happen to you.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25.

The day is approaching. It’s more important than ever to get solid footing on the ship of Zion . We are not just rafting down the New River . We are journeying toward our eternal home.

I will be looking for you.

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