Maneuvering Through Life’s Troubled Waters


Robert and I embarked on a week-long adventure in the state of Arkansas. We rented a condo on a lake and plotted a week’s worth of hiking trails and other nature-based excursions.

One of our outings included taking a canoe trip down one of the many rivers located around the area where we stayed. Since we could both count the number of times that we had been canoeing, we told the park ranger that we wanted to go canoeing, but we needed to have a river that was not challenging with lots of rapids since we were pretty much novices.

He enthusiastically recommended a river where the cub scouts and boy scouts went floating. He assured us that the trip would be uneventful. Hah!


The river was shallow and beautiful. There were huge, blue heron (birds) following us. We stopped and floated along; taking lots of pictures. At one point the water was so shallow underneath a bridge that we had to get out of the canoe and walk it over to the other side.

We came upon a group of wild horses that were grazing along the river bed. They were magnificent. We stopped to take more pictures and did our best to be quiet. In the stillness we heard the sound of water. The sound became louder and louder. In front of us were rapids. Not just a few rapids, but rapids that seemed to go on forever. Before we knew it, we were in the middle of the rapids. The horses went flying off into the woods. The entire contents of our canoe (cameras and cell phones included) toppled over in the water and so did we.

Fortunately, we had put our cameras and phones in plastic bags.  They went floating down the river and we waded after our belongings, snagging them out of the water.

We gained our composure and got settled back into the canoe. We had managed to survive this little setback.  Once again our ride was peaceful, that is, until we heard the rushing water again. There were more rapids to contend with, only this time, there was a four foot drop at the end. We made sure our belongings were secure. Then facing the rapids head on, we maneuvered the canoe through the rapids, landing vertically unscathed and drifted into calm waters once again.

Having taken our first topple, the second maneuver was a lot more manageable, even though the second rapid was a lot more difficult.

I got to thinking of this past trip and how the river is so much like our lives. We are drifting along without a care in the world and then, wham! some rapids will get in our way and topple us over. It might be losing a job, becoming ill, losing someone close to us. When we are going through the rapids it’s really scary and we can even get hurt or lose something. But after the rapids comes a calm time again. We are able to catch our breath and get back into a comfortable rhythm.  More rapids come our way. But this time, we are more prepared and they don’t last as long. We have a sense of knowing that at the end of the rapids will be calm. The rapids make us appreciate the calm and peaceful waters.

God is still speaking. Are you listening? During a month-long prayer retreat, Author Jackie Trottmann asked God to give her a word. The words tumbled out in the form of love notes from God, resulting in 365 passages, each inspired by one word – and each passage meant for you in the book: “God Notes – Daily Doses of Divine Encouragement.”

Read how “God Notes” is impacting others:

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