from the pen of Jeff Joyner
Every other summer, we would spend a week, visiting my grandparents in Bay City, Michigan. My aunt, uncle, and cousins, also lived in the same town, so there was always an over abundance of activities to keep us occupied. My grandfather, who was a third generation Dutch immigrant, lived in a house that could have easily been mistaken for a residence in the Netherlands. Inside, was the smell of coffee, the sound of classical music, and the reflections from the stain glass windows, which lined the upper staircase.
My grandfather also owned a cabin in northern Michigan, which was situated on the Rifle River. There, we would usually spend a couple of days, canoeing, fishing, or watching my grandmother make one of her famous blueberry pies. Though it was summer, it was still chilly at night, so there was always a roaring fire in the fireplace. After dinner, we would usually sit by the fire, and plan our activities for the following day.
One particular night around the fire, I suggested that we all plan a canoe trip down the Rifle River. Although it was one of our usual activities, no one seemed to be interested. After trying a couple different times to persuade them, I got a little miffed, and said, “I’ll just go by myself.” Although my parents were a little hesitant, I was able to convince them to let me go, since I was a teenager, and worked summers as a lifeguard. I told them that when I was done, I would call them from the general store, so that they could bring the trailer there, to come and get me.
The next morning, I got one of my grandfather’s canoes, got on my life jacket, and headed down the Rifle River. About halfway down, I was going over a rapid, and unexpectedly hit some rocks. Next thing I knew, my canoe tipped over, and my feet became wedged between two rocks, right in the middle of the rapids. I tried for several minutes, but was unable to leverage myself enough to reach the canoe. I knew I needed help, and began to pray. When I was done, a Bible verse immediately came to mind, one that I had heard somewhere before during my lifetime:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” Isaiah 43:2
As I glanced down once again at the rapids, I began to hear voices in the distance behind me. It was two people paddling a canoe. Help had arrived. I was eventually able to finish my course that day, and saw first hand, that God not only answers prayer, but that His intentions for us, is to never “go it alone.” For we will always need each other, until the day, when we finish our final course in life.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2