It was a high-water year. That’s a rafting term that describes the state of the river we were about to tackle. Not only was the water level high, but the river was racing extremely fast. The whole scene felt very intimidating, given that I was about to co-guide on the rapids that had flipped my kayak the year before.
During that incident, I’d had a scary experience. Not only had my kayak flipped, but I’d banged my wrist against a rock, which left me with a bad bruise. The Christian Science practitioner at the camp I was attending prayed with me for several days, and though the pain and bruise went away and I was grateful for that, the fear lingered through the rest of my time at camp.
I couldn’t be an effective guide with waves of fear crashing over me.
And now here I was again. As we approached the starting point, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and fear-filled thoughts flooded my mind. I tried to push them away as we unloaded the boats, but to no avail.
After the boats were prepped to enter the water, I realized that I needed to ask for help; I couldn’t be an effective guide with waves of fear crashing over me. So I approached my co-guide for insight. He took me off to the side and began praying the twenty-third Psalm aloud. I’ve heard this psalm hundreds of times during my life, but this time was different, because one line really stood out to me: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [God] art with me” (verse 4).
We could count on feeling safe, because God is our ultimate “guide.”
I had been feeling alone, and like the only way I could get through this experience was through my own human will. But now I could see that what my co-guide and I were talking and praying about was true: If the river was like the valley in the psalm, then we could count on feeling safe, because God is our ultimate “guide.” I felt the waves of insecurity and fear wash away immediately. It was as though everyone there—campers, fellow staff, and I—had been wrapped in the most perfect comfort and protection.
We walked back over to the campers and began explaining the fun new rapids they would experience that day. I was able to speak with complete confidence about the river, and I even ended up being able to guide four of the five main rapids. The fear was gone, and everyone was safe.
I’m extremely grateful for what I learned about trusting God during this experience. And I’ve been able to take this trust and freedom with me into the high-level training and guiding I’ve been doing this summer.