One of the many times, years ago, my parents took us camping one weekend. It was not at a typical campground, but it did have RVs and campers set up all around. For my brother and I, it was loads of fun. We loved playing outside and running around to check out all the sights. Besides the activities the campground had planned, we found other ways to occupy our time. We discovered a river located near our campsite. Our parents informed us how numerous people had drowned in rivers because of the strong currents and warned us to be careful any time we swam in the river. Since it was summer, in the heat of the day we ran down to the river’s edge to investigate. It soon became an adventurous time for the two of us.
Back then, I was not afraid of all the things waiting out there “to get me”. Without fear, although armed with caution, I stepped in. I felt the chilly water pushing gently against my feet. Every step I stepped forward; it muddied the water around my feet. Even the places that were once clearly visible at the bottom became hard to see. Yet, I kept taking the next step forward. The further I walked out into the river, the deeper it got. However, the part we were in never got deep enough to go past our stomachs. At the outward edges, the current was not strong at all. The further we went in, the more we began to feel the power of the river.
When we tried to walk upstream, we met with the resistance of the current. I had no idea how great of an exercise program it was to fight the current. In a swimming pool, there is no current. In the ocean, there is a current, but it does not feel quite the same way. The river seemed to have a constant source of power unlike anything else I encountered. Once we got to an island out in the middle of the river we played some more. Using sticks as swords, we pretended to be pirates taking over the unknown island, claiming it as our own. Eventually, we knew it was time to head back to the campsite. The walk back downstream was much easier. It was almost as if the river carried us along effortlessly.
If we never would have waded that far in, we would have never experienced the true power of the river; partial commitments are often like that. When feeling the pull of the current, the easiest thing to do was to go with the flow. However, our Pirates’ Island, would have never been reached without being willing to do what was necessary to get there. It was necessary to fight the current, to resist the way of ease. It was necessary to use what strength we had to push ourselves forward. As a leader, my older brother walked out in the front. As such, the water I saw as a follower, was muddied. Meanwhile he had vision to clearly see each step forward. Since I could not, I had to place enough trust in his vision for where we were headed. I also had to listen to his warnings when there were upcoming obstacles such as rocks. One time I did not listen and walked right into a giant rock. My bones discovered how painful it was not to follow the advice. We captured the island and felt the taste of sweet victory. Once the taste of victory was had, it left us craving more. But we didn’t find it by changing directions, going back to what was easy. We found it only by pushing forward to conquer more challenges.