This summer our family attended a family reunion in the beautiful state of Colorado. One of the amazing activities we participated in was whitewater rafting. There are many reasons whitewater rafting is popular: the scenery, the thrills, etc. As fun as it is, its also kind of a bad idea. I like a good time, but I’d be lying if I said that my logical mind didn’t think about the myriad of dangers involved. Here you are, a bunch of rank amateurs, in the middle of the wilderness, navigating a river full of rocks, rapids, and waterfalls. During the orientation, however, my mind was put at relative ease. It was explained that we had an experienced guide in our boat, along with various safety equipment. We would also have a second guide following alongside on shore should there be any problems. If either of those precautions failed, there were rescue teams on standby. Yes, the river was dangerous, but we were being provided with excellent guidance.
I think whitewater rafting is an apt metaphor for life. We are all navigating the currents, rapids, and waterfalls of the raging river we call the world. While the world is full of wonder and splendor, it is also full of dangers and difficulties. Because of sin, the world will always be full of immense challenges that are beyond our control. Yet, in the face of these seemingly insurmountable challenges, we have the protection and guidance of God. In one of His final teachings to the disciples, Jesus explained they would encounter innumerable difficulties as they navigate the world. Yet, he also gave them hope.
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:20-24, 33
Just as the rafting company provided us resources to navigate the river, God stands ready to guide us as we navigate the world. He provides the Bible and the Church to offer us wisdom and support. He provides the Holy Spirit to guide us in any and all situations. And, in case of the greatest emergency of all (death), He provides the ultimate solution: eternal life because of the death of Jesus that overcomes the world.