Whitewater Living


For many, whitewater rafting simply seems too scary. The idea of allowing the current to take you where it will, out of control. Maybe they’re just afraid of falling out of the boat. That was me until recently when my family and I went whitewater rafting while vacationing in Tennessee. Initially, I was apprehensive and afraid but went because my family was very excited and would be less so if I opted out.1000097_10200931585244204_1876371616_n

Instead of feeling out of control and scary, whitewater rafting was exciting and exhilarating. In fact, whitewater rafting actually provides a great way to understand how whitewater living, a term many use to express an out-of-control life, can be victorious and exciting instead of scary and unnerving. Here’s how…

  1. Expect variety. Our trip took us through calm waters and rapids. Similarly, life goes from calm to crazy within a matter of seconds at times, but expecting life to be anything but varied like a river really means having false expectations about life.
  2. Understand classification of rapids. Our raft guide explained that rapids are classified not based on what’s visible but on how difficult the area would be for a swimmer because the danger comes from the rocks below the surface. When we focus on what exists below the surface (character, convictions, etc.), we can better manage any level of rapids in life.
  3. Realize the dam is open. On the river where we rafted, rafting only took place the days the dam was open since this increased the flow of water. In life, we must realize that sometimes life is flowing more quickly and intensely than others, and we need to adjust accordingly.
  4. Plan for the worst. Prior to rafting, we received instructions for worse-case scenarios. We learned about our safety gear (helmets & life vest) and what to do if you fall in the water (swim toward the raft, don’t stand up). While not our focus, we must also plan for worse-case scenarios in life. We must know our convictions before we need them and emotions are high.
  5. Get locked in. Most people fear falling out of the boat, so they refuse to go rafting. But when you lock your feat into the raft (there’s an area all around the bottom inside you push your feet into), trust me when I say you aren’t going anywhere. In life, we must simply be locked in to God’s Truth.
  6. Paddle in sync with the leader. We paddled according to our guide’s instructions. We also needed to paddle in sync with the other rafters for the boat to move correctly. The idea of unity with other believers as we live our faith seems fitting with this idea of rowing the boat in sync for efficient movement of the raft down the river.
  7. Hold on to your paddle! We were shown how to hold the paddle and instructed never to let go. If we did, our paddles could easily come out of our hands and injure a fellow rafter. When we struggle with our faith or when we fail to live authentically, we can cause another to stumble. We must hold on to our faith and refuse to let go.
  8. Listen to your guide. The guide told us when to row. He steered the boat. He knew the river well and was our only sure way through the rapids safely. God’s Word is our guide through life. We capsize or fall out of the boat only when we fail to cling to His Truth. Doesn’t mean the river won’t ever get rough or bumpy, but it does mean we have a constant guide steering us through it.

Our lives are so much like a whitewater rafting trip that the experience, while scary at times, can also take us to new wonders and experiences that you just don’t get standing on the shore. With the proper tools, instructions and the right guide, the river of life can truly be an exhilarating experience.

DISCUSSION: What aspect of whitewater rafting can you immediately apply to your life?

Related Post

17 Replies to “Whitewater Living”

  1. You continue to amaze me my dear sister friend! This looks like so much fun, but it scares me to death! Your comparison to life is excellent!

  2. I have never been whitewater rafting. Won't say I wouldn't but at my age, I am much more cautious about what I do physically in the way of taking chances. however, I do like your suggestions. They show a lot of wisdom.

    1. Thanks. I can honestly say that that it really did not feel risky to me once we got going, especially past the first rapid. I felt like our guide knew exactly what he was doing, and I felt perfect safe even going through the rapids. Now, If only I could feel that way all the time with God. He's a much better guide, yet…

        1. I’m assuming you’re referring to the struggle with trusting God as our guide, right? Trusting has come up a lot the past couple of days for me. Not trusting sure is a hard habit to break. What I don’t get, is why in the world I base God’s trustworthiness on what I experience from human trustworthiness. Any insights?

  3. It is interesting that while whitewater rafting the most exciting times are those that are the ones that stress and scare you the most. In life our trials could be the same if we do the things you list. You are thankful every once in while for calm waters rafting but you are looking forward to the thrill of the rapids. Were it not so for the rapids we face in life.

    1. Good point, Mark! Getting outside of our comfort zone is often scary and stressful, but it's also almost always the most exciting time too. The calm waters in between were definitely nice for resting and letting the adrenaline subside a bit. We need the rapids to grow, but we need the calm waters to recuperate and reflect. I love your comments, Mark. They always expand on what is written, and I appreciate that extra though you do. Helps me grow. Keep it up!

  4. I've been once – it was fun. And #6 and #8 were what jumped out to me. We all had no idea what we were doing, but we followed our guide's instructions and worked together. And we survived 🙂

    1. I would definitely go again & probably enjoy myself more the second time. Want to try zip lining again too and rock climbing. I didn't expect to get more adventurous as I aged. What's happening to me?

  5. We went white water rafting and zip-lining and rock climbing and rappelling with a church leadership group in Colorado sometime within the last decade. Most fun I'd had in years – all of it unexpected. Growth can come in strange shapes and places sometimes 🙂

    1. Yes, it can. I am a firm believer that God will work in every single detail of our lives. In fact, I believe He does. It's a matter of whether or not we're paying attention.

  6. I've never been white water rafting (But want to) but have gone down a river in a raft. Reading your post and reflecting on my own experience we have to remember that their will be times in life where everything is smooth running and times when life is bumpy. We go through many seasons of life.

    1. I have a friend who is known for saying, "It's only for a season." I get her meaning for sure, and it's what you talk about in your comment. What I find interesting is how often people get "stuck" in seasons.

      1. That's a good saying. I know what you mean, the topic of why and how someone can move from hard seasons could be a entire book.

        1. Yeah, it could. Interestingly, a video study I’m doing now on Deuteronomy sort of gets at the idea of moving into the “promised land” after a season of desert wandering. Seems like I’m getting a ton of book ideas these days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *