United We Float, Divided We Capsize
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One summer, I went with several peers and many of our parents on a canoeing trip. Driving through the countryside was common for us, and hiking through it occurred often enough, but seeing nature on one of its waterways was a rare treat. Letting the current do most of the work of propelling us seemed like the perfect way to spend a hot summer day.
We did not plan this trip solely for leisure, however; we wanted some excitement, too. After nearly an hour of refamiliarizing ourselves with the rhythms of paddling and the relaxation of coasting, we came upon the rapids. If we had been whitewater rafting, these rapids would be nothing momentous; little more than preludes to hopefully hitting some truly big ones. Yet in precarious canoes, even these small rapids could cause big problems if not maneuvered carefully.
My dad suddenly had an idea. He told me to paddle hard so he and I could get ahead of the group. We approached the rapid, angled the bow perpendicular to the churning water, and hoped for the best. Thankfully, we dipped down and levelled out as smoothly as could be expected. We paddled to an eroded bank, and I held on to some tree roots while my dad pulled out his camcorder to capture everyone else coming through.
What he captured was comedic carnage.
Floating past us came every other canoe on its side or completely upside-down. Occupants were either holding on to their craft with one arm or away from it entirely, chasing lunch bags or paddles.
I shook my head and wondered how we made it through and no one else did. While I’ll never know what they did wrong, I at least know what my dad and I did right: we worked together in hitting the rapid head-on.
Time after time, Jesus exhorted His disciples to work together. He even spent part of the night before He faced the cross praying for the ones He was “sending … into the world” (John 17:18) and the ones who would “believe in me through their message” (17:20). What was His request for them? That “they will all be one … And may they be in us” (17:21).
This petition for being one and being in Him is repeated by Paul to the Ephesians:
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord (Ephesians 2:14, 21).
Jesus brings people of all ethnicities and cultures into Himself. He is united with the Father and the Spirit, so what characterizes those who are brought into Him is also unity. It’s as if He’s put us in the same boat to travel the waters of life – be they calm or rough – together. When rapids do come up before us, if those in the boat don’t approach them properly and cooperatively, they’ll hit the rapid sideways and everyone will capsize. Yet when we do face the churning waters head-on, as one, and follow our Navigator’s instructions, we’ll get through them and continue progressing downstream so that…
God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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