Summary: God has called every believer to ministry.
Woodlawn Baptist Church
October 7, 2007
Brother Kevin never looked so good in his skivvies! That’s what Justin told the group of guys we were with a few years ago. I’ve mentioned canoeing the Pecos River before. You may remember Michael and Tyler and I going a little over a year ago. This morning I want to tell you about one of my favorite canoe trips with a group of guys who made the trip memorable.
For several weeks I had been memorizing and meditating on Philippians 2:5-8, the Bible passage that says,
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Although I had been spending a lot of time in it, the passage just wasn’t saying much to me, that is until we got on the river. Each year I would try to take a group of high school boys on this rugged, adventurous canoe trip down the Pecos River in southwest Texas. It’s a 63 mile trek of beauty, wild and solitude. This particular year I was meeting a group of friends from Colorado with 10 from our group. It was March…Spring Break, and rather cold in the water. We paired off and started our journey.
The first day is always a great day of laughs as the newbies take to the water and get their paddles wet. There’s nothing like seeing the boys tumble and fall and argue and pass blame when their toilet paper for the week falls out and gets wet, or when their sleeping bags didn’t get packed tight enough and they take on water through the first few rapids.
Justin and John were no exception. They fussed and fought, argued and grumbled for the first day and a half. It was a struggle for them to keep up, even though they paddled twice as far as the rest of us, going from one side of the river to the other, never quite figuring out how to keep the canoe straight.
My friend Glen, who was with the group from Colorado, was leading us. He was most familiar with the river and knew we were headed for a hard third day, so we pressed on Tuesday trying to make tracks, but the harder he pressed us on; the farther Justin and John fell behind until they were completely out of sight. Everyone just knew they were lagging behind us, just around the last bend in the river, but I had this creeping feeling that all was not well with the boys.
We made camp late that evening, with just an hour until dusk. Everyone unpacked, ate dinner and headed for high ground to bed down for the night, but Justin and John never showed up. I was sitting at the camp fire, glad to be warm and dry, worried that something bad might have happened.
I was looking back down the river at the moonlight playing off the canyon walls which rose a hundred feet or so above the water when suddenly a great light shone. Not just any light, it looked as though the whole canyon was ablaze! I was stricken with fear and worry. I feared because when the water is low in the river the reeds and driftwood are nothing but kindling that fire sweeps through like you wouldn’t believe. But I was worried too. Where were Justin and John? They were just kids, alone, probably scared half to death, hundreds of miles from home, possibly hurt, and now the canyon is on fire.
I did the only thing I knew to do. I wanted dry clothes for the morning, so I stripped down to my underwear and shoes, grabbed a flashlight and started back up the bank to hunt for them. You can’t canoe back upriver on the Pecos, and I found out quickly that you can’t walk back up the bank either, so I had to get out in the middle of the river and start wading. The water wasn’t deep, but it was treacherous because we were in a stretch of the river called the flutes. The flutes are formed as the limestone base of the river is washed out in low water, forming sometimes deep ridges in the river bottom that you can easily break a leg in. So I carefully walked back upriver, cold, wet, in the dark, wondering why in the world I continued to bring boys down the river in the first place.