Safety on the river

“Just stay calm,” shouted my instructor over the roaring of the water.

Stay calm? Adrenaline surged through me as the Arkansas River water crept up my legs and our raft began to disappear beneath the current. As I looked to the left, I was met with two sets of terrified eyes. Seconds before, our instructor had fallen out of our raft, and now I was left with two fellow campers, both as frightened as I was. 

I felt as though there was no option but to panic. But right at that moment, a thought came to mind as clearly as if someone had spoken it aloud. It said, “Channel your thought.” That might sound like a strange message, but for me it had instant meaning.

The year before I found myself on the river, my Christian Science Sunday School teacher had had us memorize some key definitions in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy—the textbook of Christian Science. One of my favorites at the time was the spiritual definition of river. Mrs. Eddy begins this definition, “Channel of thought,” then adds, “When smooth and unobstructed, it typifies the course of Truth;...” (p. 593).

I felt as though there was no option but to panic.

Getting that message to channel my thought helped me realize that just because the river around me was raging, that didn’t mean my thoughts had to be. I could focus on the truth of the situation, spiritually speaking—that we were all completely safe in God’s care and that all of us were taken care of. I knew this had to be true, since God is everywhere, always protecting each of us.

My thoughts cleared, I felt more calm, and I was able to help communicate with our instructor and get the three of us campers to safety. Pretty soon, our instructor joined us on shore, and it was good to see that everyone was OK. I was kind of in awe of the way I had been able to recognize God’s presence through this entire experience, and I was so grateful that we all came out of it unscathed.

Just because the river around me was raging, that didn’t mean my thoughts had to be. I could focus on the truth that we were all completely safe in God’s care. 

As I look back at this eye-opening experience, I can see how God’s protecting guidance is always there for each of us. No matter what kind of difficult situation we find ourselves in, fear and panic aren’t the only options. One moment of mental stillness is enough to hear God’s direction and experience His care.

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