My brothers and I had traveled to the western edge of Zimbabwe to raft the Zambezi River. We boarded our raft at the base of the Victoria Falls. Massive amounts of water spilled over the top of the giant falls and dropped almost a thousand feet; the roar was deafening.
The falls are the largest in the world, more than a mile wide and three hundred feet high. Mist from the spray that fills the air like fog can be seen for fifty miles; the locals call it "Smoke That Thunders." The water from the falls rushes down the gorge in torrents, creating the world's largest rapids. In the United States, the highest-class rapid you are allowed to raft is a Class 5. The Zambezi's whitewater rapids can top 7 and 8...
As I sat on the edge of the eight-person raft, all suited up in a tight, overstuffed jacket and a thick crash helmet, I felt like an overcautious tourist about to mount an overpowered moped in Honolulu or rent roller-blades on Huntington Beach. The Zambezi can't be that dangerous, can it?
But then our guide [said], "When the raft flips…" There was no "If the raft flips" or "Or on the off chance we get flipped." But "When the raft flips." He went on, "…stay in the rough water. You will be tempted to swim toward the stagnate water at the edge of the banks. Don't do it. Because it is in the stagnate water that the crocs wait for you. They are large and hungry. Even when the raft flips, stay in the rough water."*
The implications of this story should be obvious: still water can be very dangerous! The spiritual application of this should be particularly apparent to you and me as followers of Jesus Christ. Stagnancy will kill one’s spirit! It is important for us all that we continually be challenged, and that we constantly struggle as we run our course for Christ. The moment that we are tempted to pull up and rest is the very moment when we are in our greatest peril. For this is the moment when the evil one usually strikes.
Remember the admonition of the Apostle Peter who said: Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8, NLT)
And what is true for individual Christians is also true for the church of Jesus Christ as a whole. We must ever resist the temptation toward stagnancy! As Dr. Chinchen asserts, “God needs us out there in the rough waters, pouring our lives into people... Live in the whitewater. Live where it's just a little bit uncertain and unsafe.”
*SOURCE: Palmer Chinchen, True Religion: Taking Pieces of Heaven to Places of Hell on Earth (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook Publishing, 2010), pp. 55-57.
NOTE: Dr. Chinchen is Lead Pastor of The Grove Church in Chandler, Arizona (http://www.thegroveaz.org/ministries/it-starts-here/). Dr. Chinchen's own personal web page is: http://www.palmerchinchen.com/. His blog can be found at: http://palmerchinchen.blogspot.com/.