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July 22, 2020

I have always loved tubing, canoeing, rafting, etc. I especially like the thrill of rafting through rapids and fast water, although a leisurely ride on a tube on a lazy river isn’t bad either 😉. I hadn’t been rafting in years, but the Church Youth wanted to go rafting on their day off at the Lake Junaluska retreat. We went rafting on the Pisgah or French Broad River (I can’t remember). The water was unusually high that year which made the rafting a little more treacherous as a lot of the rocks were hidden. Six of us in the raft and our guide. We were doing well. We came around a curve and there were rapids and rocks and we were almost through when our raft went sideways and I, well I went overboard…
“The goal of the inner journey with and to God is not simply to learn how to swim but rather to learn how to drown. The gifts of the Spirit and our time in prayer and meditation and worship are sadly often thought of as tools for the journey, that is, things taught and learned so that we may avoid drowning in the waves of life. Survival and endurance are fruits of the journey but not the point of it. For me as a Christian, I have certain scriptures that I turn to that remind me of God’s grace, and I have ‘learned how’ to pray and have found that actively worshiping God get me through the difficult moments in my life. But my getting through the hard times in life is not the point of my religion or my relationship with God. Religion must be more than a life preserver or a crutch. Is your religion a life preserver disallowing you to drown into all that God has for you? Drowning is the point. But what does drowning look like? I use this metaphor very carefully because I actually almost drowned when I was a child growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, a lovely mid-Atlantic city right on the water.
A houseboat floating on orange sunset waters. Tied up yet free in the Chesapeake Bay. Low tide. The boat was named Lady A, after my mother, Audrey. I never slept better than I did on that boat. Like Jesus in the storm. Again. Peace be still. I must have been five or six. I spent the day crabbing. No big traps. No boat. Just me, a string, some leftover chicken (crabs will eat anything), and a net. I did very well that day. I caught at least a dozen crabs. (that’s plenty for crab soup and some of my mom’s crab cakes) and kept them in the white bucket that was their holding cell. On this warm day, I turned to walk back to our floating home in the light summer rain with my chest puffed out after my fresh catch. Arriving at the dock after a long day of uplifting crabs, I attempted to make the step from pier to boat. A small gap between the pier and the boat that I had covered innumerable times was likely enlarged by waves coming in from the bay. I missed. I didn’t know how to swim and began to sink to the bottom where I feared the remnant crabs might avenge their kinfolk that I netted earlier.
My father leaned over the side of the boat, reached in, put his big hands around my forearms, and lifted me up with ease. And after some tears and caring hugs, my mom cooked up the crabs and we feasted. This story, long buried in my memories, would eventually work its way into a sermon that I once preached. It would be years later before I would see the parallel with how our Divine Father reaches down to pull us out of muddy waters as well.” (Charles Lattimore Howard/Pond River Ocean Rain/)
I gained my composure and heard this angelic voice (ok, it was our river guide): “Go with the river, go with the current, float! Don’t fight it! There is shallow water ahead!” I listened and she later told me that I had handled it well. Of course, the Youth never let me forget that I had fallen out of the raft!
Do we always handle situations well? How many times are we drowning in life and fail to listen to God? How many times have we floundered but when we turned to God, God pulled us out of the muddy waters? How many times have we fought God when God knew there was shallow water ahead? God will pull us out of these muddy waters! God bless and God’s got this!

About Rev. Bud Budzinski

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