There is something about adventure and adrenaline that is almost irresistibly enticing to the average male of the human species. This, along with the fact that the males of our species tend to be lacking in common sense from time to time, may perhaps explain why the female of our species tend to have a longer life span.
The ground was squishing under our feet a bit, my son and I, as we stood by the banks of our then-raging river. It had been raining for days, especially in the mountains above us. As such, the Broad River was about 10 feet higher than normal. My son, nearly 19 years old and with all the confidence of Captain America, had just made the suggestion that we brave those waters in the kayaks.
I was actually a bit leery despite the fact that I am normally Iron Man to his Captain America, but nonetheless we drove a few miles away to the take-out point to make sure that if we got into the water, we would be able to get out. Surprisingly, there seemed to be a calm cove that we could put into at the end of the trip. So we drove back home, arranged for my daughter to pick us up a half-hour later in the truck, strapped on our life vests and made for the water.
Normally the trip down to the greenway where we would take out is about 45 minutes and full of rocks that we need to dodge. But on this particular trip there was not a rock to be seen anywhere; they were buried deep under the powerful water. Even the fairly tall tree that has been growing out of one of the rocks in the water just below our house was completely gone, no doubt having been knocked down by a log or some other debris racing downstream.
We made our way into the water, and all was well. The current was about twice as fast as normal, and I estimated we would be downriver in 25 minutes or so.
As we got near the bridge just before the take-out site, the water was absolutely raging. It is the rockiest spot in the river. We had to fight hard to get through the 5- and 6-foot whitewater swells without capsizing the kayaks.
But we made it through successfully: 200 yards or so later, we could get out of the water. We breathed a sigh of relief, and then in a flash of time realized we had breathed that sigh of relief far too soon.
I was staying behind and just to the right of my son in case anything went wrong with him. And it did. As he tried to make the turn out of the raging current into the cove, he turned too sharply and immediately flipped his kayak.
It was bad. Very bad. There was no way he could get his footing, and no way he could get out of the current. Within seconds, I had raced to where he was and gotten hold of him. He was still trying to hold onto his kayak, worried about losing it. I told him, "Let it go. I can replace a kayak. I cannot replace you." He let it go, and if anyone between the foothills of North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean finds it, a 10-foot green kayak with a phone number written on the inside wall, please call that number and let me know.
With some Herculean effort, I managed to paddle us near enough to shore for him to grab a branch. Then he pulled himself and my kayak and me the rest of the way in. Then we stood on the bank and prayed, thanking God for preserving his life.
Irresistible attraction to adrenaline or not, we will not be trying that again, ever. I was able to rescue my son from the deep waters, though, and for that I am grateful.
I am also grateful that God has so often rescued me from the deep waters. Psalm 69:1-2 says, "Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me."
The psalmist knew what it was like to feel helpless and in despair as the deep waters rolled over him and he could not seem to get his footing. Every child of God has likely been there. And time after time, there has been a very good God there to reach out and grab us.
Despair is common to life. Job said, "Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble." People face health issues, financial trials, marital strife, the stress of raising children, problems on the job and a thousand other pressures day by day that threaten to drown us.
But from experience as a born-again child of God and from Scripture itself, I can tell you that God has never yet failed to hear the plea of his children, and that means it is always worth our time to cry out to him in our troubles.
Our hearts will break, our circumstances will often overwhelm, but at the end of it all, there will always be a God to reach down and pull us out of the deep waters, whether that means him setting our feet down on a solid rock here or on the street of gold there.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.