The Rapids

By David Armstrong, who writes weekly about prayer at Ere You Left Your Room This Morning

Two young women were among a group of eager teenagers who boarded a raft for an exciting river experience. Before they pushed off from the shore, their guide told them to fasten their life vests securely and gave them a safety speech. Each passenger picked up a paddle, and off they went down the river.

The water at first was quiet and peaceful, the current relaxed and placid. After a mile of pleasantly floating downstream, however, the roar of the first rapids met their ears. The girls’ excitement rose as the raft rounded a bend and the thrashing white water came into view. The guide yelled for everyone to paddle faster.

Despite their best efforts, the raft quickly shot into an eddy and hit a rock. The pressure of the river folded the raft in half. When the craft finally broke loose from the rock, it whipped open with a violent surge, tossing everyone but the guide into the cold, churning water. 

One of the two friends instantly panicked. She thrashed about, desperately trying to keep her head above water as the river pushed, pulled, and tumbled her end over end and side to side. She couldn’t keep the water out of her mouth and nose. She swallowed water until she could no longer breathe. Panic became terror, and her strength quickly gave out. In the nick of time, she felt a hand grab her collar and pull her up. The guide was pulling each of the stranded, drowning kids into the raft. 

The other friend had a much different experience. When the raft exploded and flung her into the water, she remembered the instructions the guide had given the group before they entered the river. She relaxed, held her paddle tightly with both hands, and breathed when she could. She surrendered to the river. Her ride through the churning water became a thrilling adventure. She felt no panic, swallowed no water, kept her bearings, and eventually floated into a calm pool. She climbed out onto the bank and waited for the raft to catch up. 

When the raft landed at the shore, the first girl leaped out and swore she would never get in a boat again. At the same time, the second girl jumped excitedly into the raft and asked how far to the next rapid.

Same raft, same river, same rapid, same unexpected launch into the water—yet the two girls had diametrically opposed experiences. What made the difference? The willingness to surrender to the will of the greater force of the river.

Photo by Tom Fisk on

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One thought on “The Rapids

  1. Kay 26 July 2022 / 7:23 pm

    That seems scary.


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