If you’ve ever been river rafting with a bunch of amateurs, you know the feeling. It’s a weird combination of exhilaration with a hint of dread, and an aftertaste of relief.
The excitement is for the unknown, and then for the ride. The dread is for the unknown too, but also for the possibility that something bad could happen. The relief is when it’s over.
Funny how the unknown can produce both dread and excitement… kind of like life.
In my limited experience, there’s always one factor that makes all the difference:
I remember one experience vividly: we were with a large youth group when we met our guide. At first glance, he seemed way too young, and way too casual. Dread factor was rising.
But once we arrived at the entry point in the river, our guide’s demeanor changed. He took charge and lead us in some warm up exercises to focus us as a team. He made it very clear that if we were to navigate this river successfully, we had to do two things:
- Listen to the Guide
- Do what the Guide said – without hesitation
It also helped focus the team when he said we could die if we didn’t follow rules 1 and 2!
The whole experience got me to thinking about parallels to life, and what a difference it makes to have a great guide in the turbulent river we call daily life. That’s when I looked at this verse anew:
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” (John 16:13 NLT)
I began to reflect on our river guide’s two rules and apply them to my spiritual life.
Was I listening? To be honest, I didn’t allow much time for listening. My interactions were hurried Bible study and even more hurried prayer. My prayers were quick and efficient… and they were all talk. I realized I never spent any time listening.
Imagine how absurd it would be to go down the river that day with me constantly yapping at the guide. I’m pretty sure folks would have thrown me out of the raft that day in order to survive! At least they might have given me this advice that also applies to my prayer life: “Shut up and listen to the guide!”
Was I doing what the guide said… without hesitation? Clearly these two are linked: I can ‘t do what the guide says if I’m not listening. But even in times when I did hear “The Guide,” did I follow without hesitation?
A good, hard look at myself revealed the answer: no, I was not following without hesitation. I remembered part of that river guide’s spiel:
“My commands may not make sense to you, but I need you to follow them anyway… without hesitation. Why? Because I know things about this river that you don’t, and I know how to keep us safe… but only if you listen and do what I tell you. A moment’s hesitation on your part may put us all in danger. So don’t be ‘that guy’ or ‘that girl!’ Just listen… and do!”
God has given us the best Guide of all in The Holy Spirit. But no guide can help us if we’re not listening… and doing what they say.
Perhaps it’s a trust issue… perhaps it’s the feeling that you don’t need a guide. We’ve all seen people like this. At best, they’re capsized and struggling back to the shore to regroup. At worst, they are pulled under the water and swept away with the river. Dread factor rising…
How do we prevent that? Stop here, go back and read the river guide’s spiel above, except this time, hear the words coming from Jesus.
Of course, Jesus said it a little more eloquently:
““If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (John 14:15–17 NLT)
Oh… and that dread factor? No need, when you have The Guide:
““I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)
My… what a difference The Guide makes….
What has been your experience with “The Guide?” How do you listen? What can you do to improve your follow through in doing, without hesitation?