A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…I took the youth group from FUMCO on a Spring Break whitewater rapids river rafting trip. It was a much anticipated, adrenalin-pumping Level III, IV and V thrilling experience—that is, until we got the briefing from the guide: “This is one of the first trips of the season with the new snow melt; it will be very cold. When I say paddle, you paddle until I say stop—otherwise the boat can overturn. If you fall out, float on your back with your feet forward, or your head will crash into a rock. When we can, we’ll try to fish you out so try to get to the shore.”
Once we were on the water, there was no turning back. You can’t ignore the rapids. Isn’t that a lot like our lives today, especially as Followers of Jesus? Wouldn’t it be ideal if we could avoid all the “rapids of life?” Of course, we can’t because we live in a very complex and compelling, unbelieving time of struggles, challenges, and temptations. Someone once put it this way: we are a G-Rated community living in a R-Rated world! But, thanks be to God that as we continue to live into the Celebration of Easter, we are surrounded with a living hope in Jesus Christ who rose from the deadness of this world!
The Apostle Peter (not Paul!) wrote these words of encouragement to those going through tough times like ours: “In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
This is so much more than just a pep talk or some political spin on an issue for us to just “hang in there.” Rather, Peter is reminding us of what is true in the promises of Scripture—that there is a wonderful joy ahead, even though we may have to endure many trials for a season. But just like Good Friday, a lot did happen in three days that brought us a new life that comes with a new perspective! This amazing and persistent confidence we now have in Jesus and in being among the people of God will let us face “the rapids”—so keep paddling in praise and glory of Jesus!