River Journeys

-Abbie Walker, Editor

This past weekend my church college group went on an outdoor retreat. Between the hours of splashing in canoes, singing songs around a campfire, and laughing to our hearts’ content, we also talked a lot about our journeys—where we have been and where we are now. We discussed how our lives are like rivers that start out one way, twist around, fork, etc. Each of us ended up drawing a picture of what our river journey would look like, and surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), a lot of our rivers had commonalities in that there were periods of rapids, rocks, or other treacheries that depicted difficult or devastating times in our lives. Some rivers went off the straight path but circled round again; some dropped off in waterfalls but continued past fields of flowers later on.

As my time at MC comes to a close, I think about how college has shaped my own river journey. I guess I could describe it as a period of small rapids. It’s been a fun, crazy, exciting time, but it’s also been really challenging. A lot of old wounds have been reopened and a lot of tears shed. Some things have spun me around and left me disoriented. But I’ve learned a lot about life and the Lord through the experience. So I’ve decided to impart some last minute advice that I wish I’d had a better understanding of earlier.

  1. We are all on the river journey of life. All of us have hard times that we go through, and we should embrace that. It’s OK to not be OK. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with the right people and share your struggles. Chances are those people have been or are going through a rough patch as well. Your story about a time when the Lord got you through a dark tunnel could be the hope that someone needs to push forward. There were times I was hesitant about sharing personal things with others, but I’ve also witnessed the Lord work in people’s lives because I did. Sometimes we see the effects, sometimes we don’t; but it’s definitely worth it. Let’s encourage each other because we all need to hear that we are not alone.
  1. Even when the craziness of uncertainty makes you dizzy and you can’t seem to find solid ground, the Lord is there. He’s got your back. I can’t tell you all the plans I had before and during college that have either been altered or completely changed. Sometimes it’s painful to see a desire taken away, but God really does have your best interest at heart. However, that truth can sometimes be hard to swallow. I’ve learned that it’s all right to complain to God. Sometimes we are afraid of angering Him, but nothing can change His love for us. Those times where I was practically wrestling with the Lord about decisions or plans that changed were the times where I learned the most from Him. Seek after Him, TALK to Him, argue with Him if you have to (He can take it), and He will direct your steps. We can spend our entire lives planning things, but the only thing that remains true and prevails is the Lord. He is our solid rock to grab onto when the crazy current threatens to pull us under.
  1. Joy is your life vest. The truth is, life is going to suck at times. Parents will get divorced; loved ones will be lost; heartache is inevitable. The only way we can really get through this life and be able to do what we are called to do is by having Joy. While happiness is something that is dependent upon one’s circumstances, Joy is an underlying peace that remains constant, and true Joy ONLY comes from the Lord. And that Joy spurs us onward to do amazing things and handle whatever gets thrown our way. If you feel like your situations are drowning you, latch on to Jesus and the supernatural, unexplainable Joy that He gives. Nothing else will be able to fill the hole in our hearts.

While the river journey analogy may be slightly cheesy, I think it speaks a lot about life. Sometimes it’s smooth; sometimes it’s a Class 4 rapid. Sometimes the river forks and we end up down a path we didn’t expect to take. Sometimes we hit rocks or capsize. But if I leave you with nothing else, know that the Lord is good. His love is unchanging and lifesaving.

Life is an adventure. Learn from where you are. Meet challenges head on. Trust in the Lord to direct your path. Only He knows what’s waiting around the river bend, but I’m glad I don’t have to face the next rapid alone.


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