Pastor Bo: The difference between living and not dying

"Are you trying to provide evidence for an insanity defense one day?"

Those words from my dear wife were ringing, ringing, ringing in my mind as my teeth chattered and my lower extremities grew numb. My upper body was still warm and somewhat dry, but the ice-cold waters of the Broad River were having an awful effect on my immersed lower body. I was feverishly trying to unsink my submerged kayak, while simultaneously thinking back to the chain of events that led me to this hilariously only-me type of conundrum.

The snow started in last night where I live, an unexpected, overachieving storm that left several inches of snow on the ground and was still going strong on the beautiful Norman Rockwell-like Saturday on which I write this column.

Lunch had passed, and I had nothing to do until my Sunday School class party at 6 p.m. And then the idea struck me like an epiphany from the heavens: kayaking in the snow.

Thrilled with my stroke of genius, I told my son what we should do. He immediately said no. I proclaimed him a Philistine and turned to my wife. Not only did she also say no, but she then hit me with the question I started this column with.

No matter. Genius ideas must be served. I had my son follow me to the greenway, we left my truck there, came back home, and in under 10 minutes I was out on the water.

There is nothing, nothing in this world like kayaking down a river in the snow in the dead of winter. The solitude is unbelievable; the only sounds were the water, the paddles softly touching into it and the birds who seemed quite unnerved by the presence of a human on the water this particular time of year. The ducks flew away. The blue heron lazily flew from the water up into a tree, then turned to squawk at me as I came by as if to say, "Go home, you crazy biped!"

The trip was amazing. And very, very nearly perfect - 99.99 percent perfect, in fact, if distance is to be the determining factor. But that last .01 percent was a doozy

I got to the very end of the trip, a spot that is always tricky, but has never resulted in any major problems for me. But this time I was leaning far back in the seat, keeping the nose of the kayak high out of the water to avoid any water splashing in. That resulted in me not seeing a rock protruding slightly out of the water. It caught the kayak, turned it sideways, dipped it slightly, and it immediately filled with water and flipped, throwing me out. Then it righted itself and sank.

The life jacket I had on the back of the boat floated away. If anyone way south of me happens to find a drab green life jacket, please give it a good home for me and rest assured that no one died to get it to you. My phone got soaked and is in iPhone ICU right now. The contents of my wallet were soaked and had to be dried out.

It took me 10 minutes to get myself and the boat out of the water. Another 10 minutes for me to be home and getting dried off. Dana just shook her head in that unmistakable "I told you so" kind of look. She gets that a lot with me, for some reason.

And I would do it all again. All of it.

God has given us an amazing gift called "life." And he said in John 10:10 that he had come to give us "life more abundantly." That is not just talking about eternal life, but also about the life we live in Christ right now.

Christians say no to so many life-diminishing things; things like drugs and alcohol and fornication and adultery and lying and stealing. But if we are not careful we will also in effect say no to life itself.

There is a scene from the movie "The Croods" in which one female member of the family screams in frustration at Grug, who wants everyone to live safely in a cave, "That's not living; that's just not dying!"

There is a difference between living and not dying. We are supposed to serve God and work for him, yes. But we are also supposed to enjoy the lives he has given us. We are supposed to live.

For my mother, that means sky-diving. No joke. For me, at least on this day, it meant kayaking down the river in the snow.

I could ask you what you are doing to not die today; but I am much more interested in what you are doing to live.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at Email him at