A few years ago, my family climbed aboard a rubber raft for a ride down the rapids of the Rio Grand River. We had never been on such an adventure, but all of us were experienced swimmers, and the river seemed to be fairly shallow. It seemed to be a harmless proposition. Our guide was a young woman from California, sun-tanned and lean, and a good communicator. She told us how to maneuver the raft, and spent several minutes teaching us to work together as a unit, paddling and rowing and listening for her voice.
In time, she pushed away from the quiet area where we'd practiced, and we raced over the first series of rapids. It was an exhilarating experience, and we enjoyed the ride.
Unfortunately, we apparently forgot all the instructions, and followed none of our guide's commands.
When we came to the next quiet area, our guide pulled us over to the river bank and looked us squarely in the eye. "Look," she said. "You've got to listen for my voice, and follow instructions. People die out here. People get hurt out here. Your life is at risk, and so is mine. We can't go on if you don't listen to my voice and follow instructions."
To say the least, she had our attention. We all gave it another shot, and performed much better on the next set of rapids. By the end of the experience, we understood why our guide had been so impassioned. The rapids increased in fury, and had we not been accustomed to listening for instructions, and following instructions, we would have been in big trouble.
There are a lot of rapids in life, but the biggest test is yet to come. At the end of life, when we meet the God who created us, what kind of answer shall we give to the way we listened for God's voice, and whether or not we followed instructions? Hebrews 2:1-3 "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?"
(From a sermon by Fred Markes, Fix Your Eyes upon Jesus, He is King of Kings, 8/30/2011)
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