Phone on rice. Fish smell gone. Dirty, wet clothes in laundry room. Life lesson learned.
My son and I went out to my favorite river this afternoon because we needed something special to do in lieu of Father’s Day plans. So I decided, what’s more special than letting him into a part of my world that hardly anyone knows about: my rock. You see, out in the middle of my favorite river is my favorite rock. Sounds silly, I know, but this particular rock is where I go when I desperately need to hear from God. Today, I just wanted to share with him the joy of this river, the beauty of it. I wanted him to share my awe of the Father’s work.
We walked down the man-made path, striking off into the woods only where there was an obviously beaten down path. Growing up in the woods has given me a reverence for nature. I remember being lost in the twelve acres behind my house one day, all by myself, as I explored the woods aimlessly, and right before I freaked out, I saw my neighbor’s spring box and gained the direction I needed to get home. I was about to gain a similar reverence for the river, an unexpected lesson I will not soon forget.
Once we walked down the path to the lookout, I felt comfortable getting off the path. I’ve done it so many times before, because you have to, to get to my rock. So, with our eyes peeled for snakes, we climbed down the side of the hill, one boulder at a time, and made our way to the left of the lookout, walking in the direction of my rock. I couldn’t help but notice that things didn’t quite look the same as they normally do. I couldn’t figure out why until we got to the huge rock I have lovingly claimed as my own and realized that today, we could get to it without ever touching water. The last time I climbed it, I had to first wade through thigh-high water and then slowly and methodically pull myself up the side of the rock, being careful not to trust my feet to hold me up since they were creating a very slippery slope on the side of the rock. Usually, at this point, I’m barefoot because I hate wet shoes. Naked feet on slippery rock is not a good combination. But since the water was way down and the path to the rock was completely dry, we confidently walked across rocks I have never seen before and climbed the side of my rock to the very top. The first time I went up there, I felt like I had conquered the world. Without the danger and adventure of the water surrounding the rock, my world felt a little smaller today. My climb was a lot less adventurous, and left something to be desired.
Since my son wanted to at least get his feet wet, we walked down the other side of the rock where the water flows around the base of the rock, took our shoes off and dangled our feet in the water. I pointed the current out to him and told him about the deception of currents, and about undertows. I pointed out rocks that were under the water and we discussed how, because the water was so clear, you really couldn’t gauge the depth of it by looking down into it. And I used all of these things to discuss the deception of temptation and sin. How the devil deceives us into believing that we can flirt with sin and not really get caught up in it, and how sin, like a strong current, can drag us off solid ground and pull us along paths we don’t really want to be on. And how once we’re out there, we are at the mercy of the current and our surroundings, and all we can do is pray to be rescued. I told him that once sin pulls you out there, you also have to worry about the undertows in life, that pull you under and keep you there until you drown. Quite terrifying analogy, if I do say so myself. And then, something happened to punctuate the lesson.
You see, while we were discussing all these things, we were exploring different currents with our feet, to feel the strength of the river. We ended up on the bottom edge of the rock near the swiftest part of the current. He was sitting precariously on the edge feeling the swaying algae and I told him to get back in such a voice that he shared my alarm and moved quickly. I then ventured to stick my foot in the algae just to see if I could handle the feel of it (normally, not something I would touch but I was feeding off his curiosity). It was so soft and although it was really slippery, it felt like there was an abrasiveness to it that I could trust to hold my feet firm. Deceptive. I planted my feet further into the soft bed of algae and shifted my weight just a little to move closer to the edge of the rock, and before I knew what happened, the current had dragged me into the river.
In moments like these, incredible peace descends on me and the Lord begins to prompt me into actions that preserve my life. I know that’s what happened because without thinking, I flipped myself over onto my stomach and planted my hands on two rocks and pulled my body as much out of the water as I could to where I was just skimming the service of the current. I can’t explain this to you. If it doesn’t seem possible, there’s your proof that angels do exist. Mine were magnificent today. I looked at the terror-stricken face of my son as he edged himself toward me and firmly told him to get back. He obeyed but squeaked, “Mom, what do I do?” I very calmly said, “Start to pray.” Then I looked at the rocks to my left and my right and quickly decided how best to get out of the water. I had to climb out on the smaller rock opposite my son. When I was finally out, I looked over at him, and he asked, “How do I get over there?” I said, “Well, you don’t. Let me figure this out a minute.” After much inner debate, I decided to follow the rocks down to a shallower part of the river (not very far at all, and at this point, my son was sitting pensively in one spot just waiting for me). I walked across the shallow part of the river and hopped slippery rocks back to where he was. I then pulled my phone and my ipod out of my pockets and whined a little over the cost of possibly having to replace them.
After all was said and done, I had learned a reverence for the river, and we both had learned a valuable lesson about sin: temptations are subtle and often times deceptive. Sin takes you further than you want to go and costs far more than you are willing to pay. Sin also separates you from both God and the people that you love and need.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to learn this lesson in such a way that we will neither forget it, and thank you for keeping us both safe in the midst of it. How lucky I am that my life is in your hands. Thank you for delivering me from the deception and treachery of sin, and preserving my life. You are wonderful to me.