When you can’t go backward, and you can’t go forward, look upward.

One day in July I took a kayak trip down a river just outside of Glacier National Park. It was a beautiful day and the part of the river I had done so far was slow and easy so I assumed the river would continue like this and set a time for my parents to pick me up. But presumption is one of the greatest dangers in life and what I did not know was that the river was flooded, and about an hour in, became a class 4 and 5 rapids. I am not an experienced kayaker and only had a lake type kayak which got easily flooded.

The river got progressively worse and fear started to creep up in my mind. I would barely make it over one rapid only to be side swept by another. I was in way over my head. As I went over a rapid, I smashed into a rock and flipped the kayak. The suction of a jetty pulled my kayak down and sucked the paddle out of my hands. It sucked me under but I made it back up and dragged myself to shore. I barely saved my kayak, but my oar was gone. I was between two massive cliffs so I couldn’t hike out.  I was left to face the rapids with no paddle and no control.

The beautiful blue sky turned into a terrible storm and it started pouring. Thunder and lighting added to my fear and I began to realize I was in a bad situation. It was getting dark, and after several hours of hiking/wading, and being swept down the river, trying to make it to the pick up point, I was exhausted and freezing. I had lost my sandals and the sharp rocks made it very slow going. I knew my parents would be worried sick and would by know that something had happen. Over several hours, I went from thinking that my parents could have called a helicopter by now, to hoping they did. 

Sometimes we assume we can handle life, but in a moment it can turn from a smooth ride, to a violent river that sucks the “oar” out of our hands and leaves us helpless. We make a mistake, or a tragedy comes out of nowhere, flips us upside down and leaves us feeling alone and afraid, trying to face the rapids of this cold world. 

But my friend, no matter what you have gone through or are dealing with, you are not alone. No matter how lost you might feel, or how bad you may have blown it at times, God is a Father who is searching for you. He is not a pastor, preacher or hour on Sunday. He has nothing to do with todays, “churches” or the system of christianity. 

Eventually, exhausted, beat up and shaking from the cold I made it to a place where the river met the road. I dragged myself and the kayak up unto the beach and sat down. In that exact moment I looked up to the road and saw my dad flying by in his yellow truck searching for me. It is a sight I will never forget. He pulled over and shouted down to me in tears. He called my mother who was waiting at the pick up point and called off the helicopter. Then he hiked down and rescued me from the river. 

God does not expect you to try to be good to get up to Him. He knows you can’t so He sent Jesus down to rescue you. Jesus carried in Himself all of our sin, failures, mistakes, grief and pain on the cross (1Pet.2:24/Is.53). He faced death and killed it with eternal life. No matter what you have done, He can forgive you. He can redeem your past and give you a purpose and a beautiful future. 

Don’t let presumption or familiarity with christian terminology,  keep you from coming to really know the living Jesus. As I learned on the river, if we assume we know things that we don’t, it can prove deadly. Pride will kill us, humility can rescue us. 

Go somewhere by yourself, silence all the noise and start to seek the Living Jesus. Use your heart and mind to study the New Testament, starting with the Gospel of John. Solitude and focus are crucial.

Don’t give up my friend. Your life matters and it could matter to so many who are suffering. Don’t look backward, Look upward. The Father will run down the road to find you and rescue you from the raging rapids of this lost world.