“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
When I was a rising 7th grader, my family went on a rafting trip that summer, and there is one part of the trip that I will never forget. The whole week my dad and I had been going down the rapids together in what’s called a double duck, which is an inflatable kayak for two people.
We had done well in it together, so we were feeling pretty confident and like we could conquer any rapid the river could throw at us. Then on the last day of the trip, we come to a rapid called “Devil’s Tooth.” The guides had us get out before the rapid to look at it and tell us how we should go down it in order not to flip over. After strategizing, my dad and I felt ready to ride the rapid.
But as we start going, a current grabs our boat and we start heading straight for a waterfall with a swirling pool at the bottom (the exact place they told us not to go). No matter how hard we paddled, we couldn’t redirect our boat. So my dad yells at me to keep the boat straight as we head over the waterfall and plunge straight into the swirling pool. Then miraculously, we pop out. Our boat was filled to the brim with water, but we had made it through the rapid. My dad and I couldn’t believe it. By simply keeping our boat straight through the huge rapids, we made it through safely.
Now reflecting back on this story, it reminds me of this verse in Hebrews. Life is full of many rapids and hard times, a lot of which we can’t predict or don’t know how to navigate. But the key to making it through these difficult times it to keep our eyes on Jesus, just as my dad and I kept our boat straight.
If the Lord is our focus and our strength, He will be with us and take us through the rapids. When it feels like a situation is drowning you and there is no way out, remember to run with endurance and fix your eyes on Jesus. He is with you always. It’s like JimDaddy used to say, “Keep your eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole.”